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EEA citizens and Right to Work and Rent Schemes

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 10 June 2021

The UK has left the European Union (EU), and the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 ended free movement law in the UK on 31 December 2020. On 1 January 2021, a grace period of six-months began, during which time relevant aspects of free movement law have been saved to allow eligible EEA citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU settlement scheme. This period ends on 30 June 2021.

We have committed to providing parity between EEA and non-EEA citizens under the new immigration system. All migrants residing and coming to the UK will be required to obtain the correct immigration status, regardless of their nationality. From 1 July 2021, EEA citizens and their family members require UK immigration status to evidence their rights and entitlements in the UK, in the same way as other foreign nationals, such as their right to work or right to rent.

The right to work and right to rent schemes—the schemes—were introduced as part of a suite of measures designed to tackle and deter illegal immigration. They are intended to prevent individuals without lawful immigration status in the UK from taking up employment or accessing accommodation in the private rented sector; and to support efforts to tackle those who exploit vulnerable migrants, often in very poor conditions.

Employers and landlords are required to carry out simple checks, applicable to everyone, including British citizens, to ensure the individual has lawful status in the UK before they employ or let a property to an individual.

Today, I have laid before Parliament the Immigration (Restrictions on Employment and Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) And Licencing Act 2003 (Personal and Premises Licences) (Forms) Order.

The order seeks to amend the schemes’ lists of acceptable documents which demonstrate a right to work or a right to rent, by removing EEA passports and national identity cards. It provides the following additions to the lists: an Irish passport or passport card, frontier worker permit, service provider of Switzerland visa, and documents issued by the Crown dependencies EU settlement schemes.

From 1 July, employers and landlords will undertake right to work and right to rent checks on EEA citizens, who have been issued with digital evidence of their UK immigration status using the Home Office online services. We have already begun this journey, with employers being able to use the online right to work service since January 2019. Since the launch of the optional online right to work service, there have been over 1.3 million views by individuals and over 390,000 views by employers carrying out right to work checks digitally. The online right to rent checking service went live in November 2020, and since then there have been over 36,000 profile views by individuals, and over 6,500 views by landlords carrying out right to rent checks digitally.

The online services make it simpler for employers and landlords to carry out the checks, as they do not need to see or check documents. The checks can be carried out by video call, as the individual’s immigration status information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems. The service is secure and free to use.

However, we recognise that some individuals are anxious about navigating a digital system. Therefore, users will be supported to adapt through clear guidance, with direct support available for those who are less digitally confident, ensuring they are not disadvantaged due to any inability to access or use digital services, including where they have no access to a device or the internet.

The order also enables employers and landlords to confirm via the Home Office employer or landlord checking service a certificate of application or document issued by the UK, Bailiwick of Jersey or Bailiwick of Guernsey EU settlement schemes, which confirms an outstanding application made by the 30 June deadline. This will ensure that EEA citizens can continue to evidence their eligibility to work and rent until the application is finally determined.

The order also amends the Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) Order 2014 by extending the list of those granted status as a visitor who can prove their right to rent using the combination of a national passport, plus proof of their arrival within the last six months, for example a physical or electronic air/sea/rail ticket or boarding pass, to EEA citizens.

Finally, the order amends and updates the existing statutory codes of practice to reflect these important changes which will improve the operation of the schemes. It also makes consequential amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 (Personal licences) Regulations 2005 and the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005, and the Illegal Working Compliance Order Regulations 2016, to align with the changes in this order in relation to right to work check.