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UK Government introduces new Immigration Bill to Parliament

11 March 2020

The Bill 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 Government introduced the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill to the House of Commons on 5 March 2020, with a second reading on 9 March 2020. For practical purposes it remains unchanged from the Bill that was under consideration by the previous Government last year.

Given that the current Government commands a substantial majority, the Bill is not anticipated to face major obstacles in being passed quickly.

What does the Bill 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

When will the immigration changes take effect?

The press release issued by the Government about the Bill states that Immigration Rules will be laid later in the year setting out the arrangements that will apply from 1 January 2021. This would seem to suggest that there may be no white paper published. This course would give the Government the maximum time to consult with stakeholders rather than being locked into specific proposals in advance of publishing the Rules.

Separate regulations will be 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 deadline for applying under EUSS.

If you would like further information on this development, please contact a member of the immigration team.

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