26 June 2017
In a background briefing note for the Queen's Speech (21 June 2017) the government confirmed the introduction of the Immigration Bill to establish new powers concerning the immigration status of EEA nationals.
Geographical extent - The Bill will apply to the UK as immigration is a reserved matter.
With the repeal of the European Communities Act, it will be necessary to establish new powers concerning the immigration status of EEA nationals. The Bill will allow government to control the number of people coming into the UK from Europe and will:
allow for the repeal of EU law on immigration, primarily free movement, that will otherwise be saved and converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill;
make the migration of EU nationals and their family members subject to relevant UK law once the UK has left the EU
In its policy paper, safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU, the government makes clear how EU citizens looking to remain in the UK can do so.
The paper confirms the creation of a new ‘settled status’ for EU citizens who arrive before a cut-off date, which is yet to be specified and will be agreed as part of the negotiations with the EU.
Applicants who already have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK will be immediately eligible for settled status. Those who arrived before the specified date but do not yet meet the 5 year threshold by exit day will be allowed to stay until they reach that milestone and can also secure settled status.
Those EU citizens who are granted settled status will be treated like a comparable UK national, entitled to broadly the same rights and benefits.
And a grace period of up to 2 years will be in place for all EU citizens, including those who arrive after the cut-off date, allowing them to regularise their status to remain in the country.
All those applying to remain in the UK will undergo full criminality checks.
The paper also confirms:
family dependants who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after 5 years
EU citizens looking to remain in the UK will be asked to apply for documentation under a new streamlined, user friendly scheme
protection for the existing healthcare arrangements for both EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU. This includes seeking continued participation in the European Health Insurance Card scheme for all UK nationals and EU citizens, including for temporary visits
the UK intends to provide certainty by continuing to export and uprate the UK State Pension within the EU, as well as offering reassurance that those exporting a benefit at the specified date will be able to do so, subject to ongoing entitlement
EU citizens who arrived before the specified date should be able to continue to be eligible for Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) student loans and ‘home fee’ status
the UK intends to continue to recognise professional qualifications obtained in the Member States prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This would be part of a reciprocal deal which ensures professional qualifications obtained in the UK and EU Member States continue to be mutually recognised
In addition to the publication of the policy paper, the government has updated its advice for EU citizens living in the UK.