After Brexit, the Government will take back control by introducing a new, fairer immigration system that prioritises skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from. Yesterday we commissioned the independent migration advisory committee to review the benefits of a points-based system and what best practice can be learnt from other international comparators, including the Australian immigration system.
In a no-deal scenario, free movement as it currently stands will end at 11pm on 31 October. The UK will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. EU citizens will be subject to stricter criminality checks and further changes will be introduced to show that the UK has left the EU. I am today publishing a policy statement setting out these changes, and further information will be published in due course.
The Government recognise the need to provide EU citizens, employers and others with certainty about the arrangements that will be in place after Brexit. Border crossing arrangements will not change. However, we do not believe it is right to allow people moving to the UK after Brexit to have the same rights as the EU residents who have lived here, in some cases for decades.
After careful consideration, myself, the Prime Minister and Cabinet have therefore agreed that EU citizens moving here after a no-deal Brexit will be able to access a temporary immigration status, until the new skills-based immigration system goes live at the start of 2021.
To this effect, the Home Office will open a new European temporary leave to remain scheme for EU citizens and their close family members moving to the UK after Brexit, in a no-deal scenario. When the scheme opens it will be voluntary, and we will not charge a fee. It will be open until the end of 2020 and EU citizens who apply will be able to secure a 36 month temporary immigration status which will extend beyond the launch of the UK’s future immigration system. Once the future system opens at the start of 2021, anyone without European temporary leave to remain will have to qualify under the provisions in the future system if they wish to stay in the UK. In contrast, those who have applied for the bespoke interim scheme will have more time to transition into the future system and will not need to qualify until their temporary leave expires.
The same arrangements will apply to nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The 3.4 million EU citizens already resident here, and their family members, deserve a privileged position. They are our family, friends and neighbours and we want them to stay. We have set up the EU settlement scheme to enable them to secure their status under UK law and—in a no-deal scenario—they have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply. Already over 1 million people have successfully been granted status.
Until the future immigration system is introduced, all EU citizens will be able to prove their rights to take up employment and rent property, as now, by using a passport or national identity card. Their rights to claim benefits and access services in the UK will remain unchanged.
Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter, live and work in the UK without requiring permission. The UK and Irish Governments have made firm commitments to protect common travel area arrangements, including the associated rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s state.
For EU citizens and their family members moving to the UK after Brexit, freedom of movement in its current form will end on 31 October. EU citizens who still want to make a contribution to the UK will soon have a route by which they can secure the certainty of status they need in advance of the future system going live in 2021.