On 21 October 2019, the Government published an impact assessment in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (the Bill) – MP’s were expected to have already voted on passing the Bill through a ‘meaning full vote’ on Super Saturday and had less than 24 hours to digest this before voting on Tuesday, 22 October – as you are no doubt aware, the Bill’s second reading was passed, with the caveat that Parliament was not prepared to debate and pass it by 31 October.
We outline below the main points of the assessment relating to UK immigration laws. It should be noted that the impact assessment has 69 pages of technical detail. One should bear in mind that this relates to the ‘deal’ secured by Boris Johnson and therefore does not cover a ‘no deal’ scenario:
- Freedom Movement rights as stipulated Directive 2004/38/EC and transposed into UK domestic legislation through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) will end, through an Immigration Bill once enacted, during the implementation period.
Boris Johnson, through the Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s intention to bring forward the Bill, during the current Parliamentary session. Once the Regulations are revoked, EU nationals will need to have or be granted, pre-settled or settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme through UK law. The Government will be able to extend the deadline for EU nationals to obtain either status within 6 months after the implementation period.
- Under a ‘no deal’ scenario the only reference to EU nationals in the document relating to immigration, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that they will be able to remain in the UK through the Settlement Scheme.
- The Government will introduce a new permit system to protect EU workers (who will be referred to as ‘Frontier’ workers post Brexit and will be phased in prior to Brexit through a voluntary basis.
- Deportation thresholds stated in the EU Regulations known as the ‘indents’ will be maintained for personal conduct during the implementation period – therefore, the current law of protection from deportation which EU nationals have, who for example, are imprisoned based on the length of their stay, will remain. It is envisaged, that the number of deportations will remain similar to now during the implementation period but will increase once it ends. Deportation of EU nationals committing crimes has been a bugbear, particularly for Conservative MP’s as the former Prime Minister David Cameron discovered, when despite obtaining concessions from the EU on this issue, was met with scepticism.
- A new right of appeal will be introduced for EU nationals who receive negative immigration decisions. The appeals will be through the current immigration appellate system starting at the First-Tier Tribunal.
- The introduction of an Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) to monitor the UK’s implementation and application of citizen’s rights, which will be able to ‘launch inquiries, receive complaints, and bring legal action’ – one assumes, this will be similar to the role of an ombudsmen, with the appellate authority being the first place legal readdress should be brought by individuals, in relation to a negative immigration decision.