New Immigration Act becomes law
12 November 2020
The Act provides the legislative basis for ending EU free movement arrangements in the UK after the end of the transition period, and for recognising the immigration status of Irish citizens in the UK.
The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 11 November 2020.
What does the Act do?
The Bill contains provisions to:
- Revoke the free movement arrangements EEA nationals and their family members currently enjoy, which enables the Government to bring them within the scope of the immigration system it plans to implement from 1 January 2021
- Clarify and protect the status of Irish citizens in the UK, enabling them to continue to enter and remain the UK without restriction (including that they will not be required to apply for leave) once free movement arrangements end, unless they are subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or international travel ban
- Make changes to social security coordination arrangements between the UK and EU after the end of the transition period for those who are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, eg tobring eligibility for income-related benefits for EEA/Swiss citizens in line with those for non-EEA nationals and to stop the export of Child Benefit from the UK
- Require the Home Office to review, or arrange for a review of, the ways in which protection claimants who are in a member State are able to enter the United Kingdom lawfully (this is the only Lords amendment that has been incorporated into the Act)
When will the immigration changes take effect?
Separate commencement orders will need to be laid confirming this, however the immigration changes are expected to take effect from the end of the transition period, ie 11 pm on 31 December 2020. This will be necessary to enable the domestic Immigration Rules to be applied to EEA nationals and their family members with effect from that point.
The Government has made substantial changes to the current system via Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 813, which was laid last month. We have commented on the Rule changes most likely to be of importance to employers here, including the introduction of the new Skilled Worker and Intra Company routes.
Separate regulations have been made to enable people who are eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to be able to maintain their lawful status in the UK, and to travel to and from the UK during the period from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021, which is the main deadline for applying under EUSS.
If you would like further information on this development, please contact a member of the immigration team.
The UK left the EU at 11pm (UK time) on 31 January 2020, and the transition period came to an end on 31 December 2020. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement reached on Christmas Eve 2020 sets out the shape of the ongoing future relationship between the UK and the EU and provides some degree of certainty for UK businesses.
Brexit has substantial implications for immigration between the UK and the EEA/Switzerland (excluding Ireland). Businesses and individuals should ensure they have a plan in place for how to deal with the new immigration requirements that apply for EEA/Swiss (EEA) national workers and their family members from 11 pm on 31 December 2020, and for all other non-EEA national workers from 1 December 2020. Planning should also cover British nationals who are residing in the EEA, or who need to travel to the EEA from 11 pm on 31 December 2020.