Government plans for post-Brexit EU migration revealed

6 September 2017

In a document leaked to the Guardian on 5 September, we gained a much clearer idea of how the British government sees immigration for nationals of the EU27 post-Brexit. Much has already been said and written about this 81-page paper, marked 'Draft - Official Sensitive' and characterised as a basis for discussion to be subject to extensive consultation.  Here, we distill it into 10 key points:

  1. Change will be managed in three phases; the first ensuring EU citizens already resident may remain and possibly seek settled status; the second follows the UK's withdrawal from the UK and introduces a temporary 'implementation period' to replace free movement rules; the third will signal the introduction of new rules to 'control the type and volume of both temporary and permanent migration from the EU'

  2. EU27 citizens here during Phase 1 - that is, a date not later than that on which the UK leaves the EU - will retain an avenue to settlement, something they will be granted rather than acquire as of right.  A 2 year grace period post-Brexit will allow these individuals to secure their residence in the UK

  3. During Phase 2, which will last at least 2 years, EU citizens will come and go under a system of 'deemed leave to enter'.

  4. Phase 3 will bring EU citizens in line with the rest of the world, but new rules 'may make specific provision' for them.   A scheme offering 'preferential arrangments' may result from Brexit negotiations, but the UK will have to ensure that its brave new immigration world isn't inherently discriminatory

  5. This final phase will put an end to what the UK government has long seen as loopholes in the EU migration system; for example, the ability of overstayers to marry and gain residence under Metock, and of parents to derive a right of residence from their children under Zambrano and Chen

  6. Phase 3 will potentially look very similar to the rest of the UK's immigration rules, preventing low-skilled workers from entering in favour a sponsor-based system for those with more desirable skills.  For family members, minimum income thresholds are set to be introduced

  7. For security reasons the UK will insist on EU citizens travelling on passports rather than national identity cards; they will retain access to e-gates at ports of entry

  8. Irish citizens are completely unaffected by Brexit, and retain freedom of movement to the UK

  9. Deportation rules for EU citizens who commit criminal offences will be brought into line with those for all other foreign nationals; the much more relaxed approach to crimality set out in EU regulations has long been a bugbear of the Home Office, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this change will come immediately, rather than being phased in like everything else.  there is a suggeston in the paper that new deportation rules will only apply to crimes committed after Brexit

  10. The UK will remain a country of sanctuary for those fleeing persecution; it will no longer be party to the Dublin III Regulation on member states' responsibility for determining asylum claiims but may reach a bilateral agreement of a similar nature with the EU27

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