Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech outlined the government's stated agenda for the coming parliamentary session, with 26 proposed pieces of legislation. Nobody knows how long this parliamentary session may last but assuming the government remains in place beyond the end of October we now have an idea of the legislation it intends to pass. Of course whether it is able to do so is another matter.
The first priority the Queen mentioned was not only that the Government will seek to secure the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 October 2019, but also to end free movement:
‘An immigration bill, ending free movement, will lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system. My Government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain. The bill will include measures that reinforce this commitment.’
Do not panic! Free movement for EU nationals in the UK will continue after the current proposed day of Brexit (31 October 2019) until at least 31 December 2020.
What EU nationals will need to consider, however, depending on their circumstances, is to prepare for this date by obtaining a document to evidence their status in the UK.
This is because the Government plans to end EU free movement rights from January 2021.
The Government has confirmed the following transitional arrangements in the run-up to the above date:
- If there is a Deal – EU nationals can use the Pre-Settled or Settled Status Scheme to acquire immigration status by 30 June 2021;
- If there is a no Deal - EU nationals in the UK prior to exit day (11pm) can use the Pre-Settled or Settled Status Scheme to acquire immigration status by 31 December 2020;
- If there is a no Deal – for EU citizens who move to the UK after Brexit free movement will remain until at least 31 December 2020. If EU nationals would like to stay beyond 31 December 2020 they can voluntarily apply for temporary leave for up to 36 months. There are fears, however, that these processes will create another scandal similar to Windrush.
The Bill is also said to include the newly refurbished points-based immigration system. This system is said to apply to all migrants (including EU nationals) as of January 2021. The new points-based system is intended to ‘strengthen the labour market’ and to prioritise skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they are from.
However, under this ‘new’ system, migrants will be given extra points if they agree to take skilled jobs in northern England and coastal towns. Although this idea from the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is intended to spread skilled migrants around the country, this could be difficult as people are often lured by higher salaries which may deter them away from such areas. This is one criteria to look out for!
In particular, the Queen’s Speech mentioned that the Government are committed to…
‘…Establishing the United Kingdom as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology. Increased investment in science will be complemented by the development of a new funding agency, a more open visa system, and an ambitious national space strategy.’
In addition to the above, the Government plans to legislate tougher sentences for foreign criminals who re-enter the UK in breach of a deportation order, although the length of such tougher sentences is currently unspecified.
Priti Patel stated that:
“The sentence for breaching a deportation order is far too low and many criminals conclude that it’s worth trying to get back in the country when all you get is a slap on the wrist”.
The Bill appears to be setting a tougher line on immigration rather than opening the gates to more skilled workers or paying more attention to the lower skilled jobs (that EU nationals contribute significantly to in the UK). It seems as though the bar has slipped and that the UK’s future economy will be dependent on the Withdrawal agreement and whether there will be a deal or no deal.
Gherson will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 1pm with regards to EU nationals and Brexit. If you would like to join, please email email@example.com.
Gherson has extensive experience within the areas referred to above. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Trainee Solicitor and joint head of our corporate team