Last week, the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, representing an important milestone in paving the way for the new UK points-based immigration system.
By ending free movement and bringing EU citizens under UK immigration controls, the Bill will enable the future immigration system to operate from 1 January 2021.
The Bill also confirms the UK’s commitment to preserve its deep and historic ties with Ireland by protecting the immigration status of Irish citizens in the UK once free movement ends. This status supports wider rights enjoyed by Irish citizens in the UK, mirrored by equivalent provision in Ireland for the treatment of British citizens who are resident there.
The Government is firmly committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements after the UK leaves the EU. The Bill will not affect the operation of the CTA and British and Irish citizens will continue to move freely between and reside in the CTA.
Since the Bill was previously introduced, there has, understandably, been interest in the protection of rights of resident European citizens. We have always been committed to guaranteeing the existing rights of European citizens who are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and we have delivered this through the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 as well as the EU Settlement Scheme.
European citizens, living in the UK by 31 December 2020, will have their rights protected and they will be able to stay permanently by applying to the Scheme. This gives individuals and businesses the certainty they need. The Scheme is working well and as announced last month, over 3.2 million people have applied and almost 2.9 million people have been granted status.
Now that we have left the EU, we can take back control of our borders and immigration policy. This Bill will end free movement and give the Government full control of UK immigration policy for the first time in decades, delivering on our manifesto promise to the British people.