The Government’s priority remains to leave the European Union on the basis of the draft Withdrawal Agreement reached on 17 October 2019. However, it is appropriate that we also continue to make the preparations necessary in the event that we leave without a deal.
To that end, the Government is laying before Parliament today the Immigration (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Further to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my rt hon Friend the Home Secretary on 4 September 2019 (HCWS1817), this will deliver changes in immigration arrangements for EU citizens which reflect the fact that, in a no deal scenario, free movement as it currently stands will end when we leave the European Union.
In particular, to increase security and better protect the public, the measure – and associated changes in the Immigration Rules contained in the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 170) which my rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is laying before Parliament today – will mean that a UK conduct and criminality threshold rather than an EU threshold will be applied for EU citizens and their family members moving to the UK after a no deal Brexit. The measures will also apply those thresholds to the post-exit conduct of EU citizens and their family members living here before a no deal Brexit, or who have EU Settlement Scheme status, and to their pre-exit conduct where their post-exit conduct results in a sentence of imprisonment. This will bring the approach to EU citizens more into line with how we treat non-EU nationals and make our system simpler and fairer.
In addition, the Immigration (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 make changes to the documentary evidence which may be relied upon by EU citizens and their family members for admission to the UK. They also remove the scope for EU citizens and their family members moving to the UK after a no deal Brexit to acquire permanent residence under EU law and the scope for UK nationals and their family members moving to the EU27 after a no deal Brexit to return here under current EU law-based arrangements.
The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 170) establishes the European Temporary Leave to Remain Scheme, for European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens moving to the UK after a no deal Brexit and before the start of the new points-based immigration system from January 2021, and for their close family members, to enable them to obtain a UK immigration status so that they can continue living and working here for a temporary period after 2020. In line with previous policy announcements, it also provides access to the EU Settlement Scheme – under which EEA and Swiss citizens resident here before Brexit can obtain UK immigration status – for relevant family members joining them here after a no deal Brexit, by 29 March 2022 in the case of existing close family members and by 31 December 2020 for other relevant family members.
Taken together, these changes will begin the process of taking back control of our borders and preparing the way for a new, fairer immigration system which operates in the national interest.
Copies of the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules will be available in the Vote Office and online at Gov.uk.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords