Thoughts on the Queen’s Speech from an Immigration Perspective
Prime Minister Theresa May’s introduction to the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday 21 June opened with her stance on Brexit. The fact that the Prime Minister has delved straight into this topic indicates that this remains the priority of the Government for at least the next two years. Her message was clear – we need to get this right.
According to the Prime Minister, this means getting a deal which delivers the result in a way that commands maximum public support. Given the recent sentiments surrounding Brexit, it appears that Ms May remains focused on seeing Brexit through, and a number of new Bills (eight in total) will be providing the legal certainty and passage for the next two years. These will be debated by both the Houses of Commons and Lords over the coming days.
The first of what are arguably the two most important Bills is the Repeal Bill, which aims to provide legal certainty as regards the UK’s stance on its legislation, and that of the EU. This Bill aims to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, converting EU law into UK law (where appropriate). It will also enable Parliament to create secondary legislation where needed.
The second, the Immigration Bill, aims to provide the UK with control over the number of people entering the country from Europe, whilst continuing to attract the ‘brightest and the best’. This phrase would appear to be a reference to the current Points Based regime, and the UK preserving its current stance on controlling immigration and reducing the net migration figures.
The new Immigration Bill will provide the Government with the framework to end the current free movement of workers from the EU to the UK. Instead, they will be subject to UK law, once the UK has left the EU. It will be interesting to see how this is introduced, perhaps via a new Points Based System (PBS), which may sit alongside the current one, or rather a new Tier based category, or perhaps we will revert to something similar to the old Worker Registration Scheme (pre-PBS).
The announcement, on Monday 19 June, of the Government’s intention to introduce a “registration process” for EU citizens currently living in the UK, could be a pre-cursor to these changes. Currently, there is a mechanism for EEA migrants to apply for a Registration Certificate, or a Permanent Residence document, should they choose to do so. This is a voluntary application, and aims to document the EEA national’s legal right to remain in the UK.
This new “registration process” announced by the Government appears to differ from the current formal Registration Certificate application, as it is understood that this new process will offer EU citizens currently in the UK the opportunity to “register their interest” in obtaining documentation, which will allow them to live and work in the UK post 2019. It is unclear what this process involves and is thought to be simply a stocktaking exercise. As the demand for EEA applications (such as Registration Certificates, Family Member Residence Cards, and Permanent Residence applications) has surged following the Referendum, these are currently taking more than six months to be processed if submitted by post. Perhaps this new registration process is a means for the Government to gauge the future demand for these applications. It remains to be seen how this will be implemented by the Home Office.
What is evident from the past few days and the new rhetoric used by the Government, is that the immigration system will change irrevocably, and therefore in this time of uncertainty it is recommended that those eligible individuals document their status with a view to providing them with some certainty in respect of their UK residency status.
If your business is concerned about its EEA work staff, or if you have any queries, please contact a member of our dedicated Business Immigration team on 020 7329 9090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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