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UK BILL INTRODUCED TO END FREE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE

The United Kingdom has recently passed The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which was first introduced on 5th March 2020. The Bill, which ends the principle of free movement of people in the United Kingdom, is set to be introduced upon the conclusion of the transitional period on 31st December 2020.

The Bill, passed by 351 votes to 252 on 18th May 2020, has marked concrete developments in the UK’s transition into a points-based immigration system. The UK government clarified in February that points will be awarded for certain requirements such as the ability to speak English, having a job offer from an approved employer and meeting a salary threshold of £25,600. Points may also be awarded for certain qualifications or for working in an area where there is a shortage of workers.

However, the Bill clearly prioritises migrants with “high skilled jobs” which concerningly appears to be determined based on financial thresholds above any other factor.

UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has stated “We’re ending free movement to open Britain up to the world. It will ensure people can come to our country based on what they have to offer, not where they come from.”

The Bill includes provisions intended to uphold the historical entitlement of Irish citizens to enter and remain in the UK without the need of seeking permission or leave to do so.

These provisions relating to Irish citizens will operate alongside the Common Travel Area (CTA) regime once EU freedom of movement comes to an end.

Under the CTA, Irish citizens are permitted to move freely between Ireland and the UK and vice versa. This extends to the right to enter, reside, pursue education, take up employment and access State benefits. On the 8th May 2019, both the Irish and UK government signed a Memorandum of Understanding which reiterated their commitment to the CTA and to the maintenance of the derived rights from this agreement.

The Bill has made it clear that the rights being afforded to Irish citizens are more far-reaching than those afforded to other EEA nationals. The UK government’s position is that Irish people will have a general right to reside in the UK which is separate to their rights as EU citizens.

Although this Bill provides legislative certainty to Irish citizens on their rights to enter and reside in the UK without leave, disappointingly the provisions are not yet provided for in comprehensive detail.

The Irish  Human Rights and Equality Commission called for an international treaty in their November 2018 report to formalise common immigration rules and the rights of Irish citizens in the UK during the wake of the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

The Bill places EEA and Non-EEA nationals on the same footing in terms of immigration permissions in the UK.

The free movement of people across 28 countries, considered to be one of the greatest achievements of the European Union, has been significantly reduced by this Bill.

The UK’s new system will take a restrictive economic approach to those considered eligible to travel to the UK and will disproportionately affect those not considered to be “skilled workers” i.e. those who earn less than £25,600 per annum.

This concern caused by this Bill is exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and the proposed immigration rules will undoubtedly deem many healthcare workers ineligible to reside in the UK.

Despite the Home Secretary referring to the introduction of a fast-track visa for doctors, nurses and other health professions, the passing of this Bill will understandably create a huge amount of worry to those already facing extreme pressure and uncertainty caused by both Brexit and Covid-19.

It’s expected that this Bill will consequently restrict the freedom of movement of UK citizens in both the EU and outside the EU.

It seems that further details of the UK’s move towards a controversial points-based system will likely not be formalised until the conclusion of the transitional period in December 2020.

 

UK GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS PEOPLE BORN IN NORTHERN IRELAND ARE TO BE CONSIDERED EU CITIZENS FOR CERTAIN IMMIGRATION PURPOSES

The UK Government has announced a change to its immigration laws following a landmark court case involving Derry woman Emma De Souza and her US-born husband Jake De Souza.

The case concerned the right of people in Northern Ireland to be considered Irish or British citizens, or both, as per the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Mr De Souza had applied to the UK Home Office for an EEA residence card to live and work in Northern Ireland on the basis of his marriage to Ms De Souza in 2015. The application was rejected on the basis that Ms De Souza was considered a British citizen because she was born in Northern Ireland, and therefore she was not entitled to EU free movement rights. This was despite the fact that Ms De Souza had never held a British passport and identified as an Irish citizen.

The UK Home Office originally argued that people born in Northern Ireland are automatically British citizens according to the 1981 British Nationality Act, even if they identify as Irish. It stated that the only way it could deal with Mr De Souza’s application was if Ms De Souza renounced her status as a British citizen.

Ms De Souza argued that the UK’s immigration laws were incompatible with the right of Northern Irish people to be accepted as Irish or British, or both, under the Good Friday Agreement.

The UK Home Office has now made a change to its immigration laws, confirming that British and Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland will be treated as EU citizens.

This decision has far-reaching consequences in light of the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme, which is open for applications until June 2021. The Scheme allows EU citizens and their family members to apply to reside in the UK post-Brexit. Until now, family members of British or dual British-Irish citizens from Northern Ireland were ineligible to apply for status under the Scheme.

All citizens in Northern Ireland will now have the right to apply for a non-EEA family member to remain in the UK through the Scheme, up until June 2021. This means that British citizens in Northern Ireland now have more rights than their counterparts in England, Wales and Scotland.

Speaking about the announcement, Ms De Souza commented:

“These changes are on the back of years of campaigning for the full recognition of our right to be accepted as Irish or British or both under the Good Friday Agreement.

We have always contended that no-one should be forced to adopt or renounce a citizenship in order to access rights, to do so goes against both the letter and the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, the Home Office now concedes that point.

These changes will only apply to Northern Ireland and recognise the unique status that the region holds within the United Kingdom. Something that we have longed called for.

We personally know a number of families that will benefit from this change and are filled with joy and relief that these families will not face calls to renounce British citizenship or face years in court like we have.”

UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES DRAFT IMMIGRATION BILL GUARANTEEING RIGHT OF IRISH CITIZENS TO LIVE AND WORK IN THE UK POST BREXIT

Last month, the UK Government published the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which provides the legislative basis for ending EU free movement arrangements in the UK once the Brexit transition period has expired.

The Bill aims to retain the Common Travel Area rights of Irish citizens to live and work in the UK without restrictions. Section 2 of the Bill provides that “an Irish citizen does not require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom”. Exceptions to this include the possibility to deport Irish citizens for serious criminal offences.

The British Immigration Minister Kevin Foster has stated that the Bill “provides certainty and clarity for Irish citizens on their rights to enter and live in the UK, reflecting the reciprocal arrangements for British citizens in Ireland.”

In practice, the Bill will ensure that there is no change to free movement between Ireland and the UK for Irish citizens. This follows repeated assurances from both the Irish and UK governments that the Common Travel Area, which has been in place since 1922, will remain valid post-Brexit.

However, in its current form, the Bill does not provide Irish citizens with any right to have family members reside with them, unlike EU free movement law.

Other EU citizens may require visas to enter and reside in the UK from as early as 2021. The UK Home Office has announced its intention to introduce a points-based immigration system for both EU and non-EU citizens.

At present, these proposals are at a very early stage and are subject to change as the Bill moves through the legislative process. Members of Parliament are scheduled to consider the Bill for a second reading on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

The full text of the Bill can be found here.

UPDATE ON BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR NON-EEA FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS EXERCISING THEIR EU TREATY RIGHTS IN IRELAND

At midnight on 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that the transitional period has commenced and will run until the 31st December 2020.

The Department of Justice and Equality, has published a communication on their website aimed at non-EU/EEA nationals who are residing in the State as the family member of a British citizen.

The Department has confirmed that during this transition period, which will last until at least the 31st December 2020, EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the family members of British citizens who are currently resident in Ireland, that is to say they will continue to benefit from Directive 2004/38 and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 which provide for the rights of British citizens to live and work in the EU.

Unfortunately, the Minister has yet to clarify what plan is in place for the family members of British citizens who currently hold EU Fam residence cards after the 31st December 2020.

Furthermore, the update is also silent on the policy to be applied to the family members of British citizens who will have EU residence card and visa applications pending at termination of the transition period.

It is indicated that the Department will announce details of arrangements for non-EEA family members of British citizens closer to the end of the transition period.

This lack of clarity on the status of such applications after the 31st December 2020 is disappointing.

Meanwhile, the EUTR Section of the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service are in delaying issuing decisions in most applications well beyond the permitted timeframes. For example, many of the residence card applications are taking approximately ten months when the EU Regulations require that they are determined in a six-month period.

This delay is very unsatisfactory especially for the family members of British citizens who are now concerned regarding the pending deadline of the 31st December 2020.

It is advisable to regularly check the Department’s website. Berkeley Solicitors will also update the Immigration Blog as further information becomes available.

We understand many people are concerned regarding the uncertain impact of Brexit on their applications and right to reside and access the labour market in Ireland. If you or your family members are affected please do not hesitate to get in contact with our office.

The update can be read in full here.

 

BRITISH CITIZENS AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS IN IRELAND- THE RIGHT TO RESIDE IN THE EVENT OF A NO-DEAL BREXIT

As previously highlighted on Berkeley Solicitor’s Immigration Blog, the family members of British citizens resident in Ireland on the basis of EU FAM Residence Cards have received recent correspondence outlining “transitional arrangements” will be put in place in the event of a no- deal Brexit.

There is no clear outline in these letters as to what these transitional arrangements will be.

This has caused much anxiety to the holders of the EU FAM residence cards as highlighted by the Irish Times in their article of the 18th September 2019.

What is not mentioned is this article is that the further information and clarification outlined on The European Commission’s website which currently states as follows:

“Member States have prepared or adopted national contingency measures to ensure that UK nationals and their non-EU family members could remain legally resident in the immediate period after a no-deal withdrawal. To provide further clarity on the situation, the Commission, based on the information provided by the EU27 Member States, makes available an overview table and a Q&A on UK nationals’ residency rights in each of the EU27 Member States.  

Ireland

I am a UK national living in Ireland. In case of a no-deal scenario, what should I do to keep my residence rights after Brexit date? When should I do it?

All UK nationals have a right under the Common Travel Area to live in Ireland.

You do not need to take any action to continue to live in Ireland after Brexit date.

What will my rights be?   

Under the Common Travel Area (CTA), British citizens can move freely to, and reside in, Ireland and can enjoy associated rights and privileges including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, and the right to vote in certain elections.

The Government of Ireland and the UK Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 8 May 2019‌, reaffirming their commitment to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances.

More details can be found here

How can I travel to other Member States or cross the EU external borders?     

You will have to carry your passport, and fulfil any visa requirements, which may be introduced by other Member States.

 I have resided in Ireland for more than five years. How can I obtain EU long-term residence status?   

Ireland, does not participate the Directive (2003/109/EC) which deals with long term residence for third country nationals.  Therefore, the EU long-term resident status does not apply for UK nationals in Ireland.

 My family members (spouse, children) are citizens of a third country (neither EU nor UK). What should they do to keep their residence rights?

  1. a) If they already have a residence card issued under EU free movement law, this will be considered as their temporary residence permit until 31 October 2020, i.e. 12 months after Brexit date. After 31 October 2020, i.e. 12 months after Brexit date, they will have to apply for a new residence permit, according to the law that will be applicable at that time.
  2. b) If they do not have a residence card, they will have to apply for a residence permit as soon as possible to regularise their position in the State. For information on the application process, please visit this website inis.gov.ie.”

It appears that the current plan is for family members of British citizens to hold their EU Fam residence card for one year as a “temporary residence card”, whilst the new “transitional provisions are put in place.

This suggests that the family members of British citizens do not have to take any steps as their current EU residence card will serve as their temporary residence permission pursuant to Irish law for the first year at least.

If you or your family members are affected please do not hesitate to get in contact with our office.

The European Commission Webpage can be accessed in full here.

 

EFFECTS OF BREXIT FOR NON-EEA FAMILY MEMBERS OF UNION CITIZENS RESIDENCE IN IRELAND

UPDATE- INIS has provided a welcomed update on the effects of Brexit on Non-EEA family members of British citizens seeking EU Treaty Rights currently residing in Ireland.

On the 31st of October, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and become a third country unless a draft withdrawal agreement is ratified prior to this. Brexit has left many unanswered questions for Non-EU/EEA British citizen family members.

Although currently entitled to avail of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015, a no-deal scenario would mean that Non-EEA family members of British citizens will no longer be able to exercise EU treaty rights. Encouragingly, if you are currently a Stamp 4 EUFam card holder, INIS advises that you should have no concerns regarding your continued residence after the 31st of October in the State.

The Department of Justice and Equality has been contacting holders of Stamp 4 EUFam residence cards confirming that “transitional arrangements” are being put in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These arrangements will facilitate the transfer of free movement rights under domestic immigration arrangements. The objective of these transitional arrangements is to retain similar rights to those currently enjoyed as a non-EU/EEA family member of a British citizen.

If you are a non-EU/EEA British citizen family member and currently reside in Ireland, any changes in your personal circumstances, such as your civil status, your citizenship or that of the British citizen family member should be brought to the attention of EU Treaty Rights Division.

INIS has recently reaffirmed that where applications are pending, no action is currently required.

For more information, please read here

You can contact EU Treaty Rights Division by email at eutreatyrights@justice.ie or by post at:

EU Treaty Rights Division
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2.

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON BREXIT AND THE RIGHTS OF NON-EU/EEA FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS

In the face of the uncertainty and worry facing many in light of the ongoing Brexit deliberations, the Department of Justice has, on the 29th of March 2019, published a communication aimed at non-EU/EEA nationals who are residing in the State as the family member of a British citizen, in order to provide an update on the approach they intend to take in the event that the UK leaves the EU in a so called ‘no-deal’ scenario.

The communication defines no-deal as referring to circumstances where there is no further extension of the negotiating period and the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement before the 12th April 2019, in which case it states there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 11pm (midnight CET) on that day.

Alternatively, if a deal is reached, according to the Department’s communication, the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement on Citizens Rights will apply and EU law will only cease to apply in and to the UK following the transition period of 21 months, up until the 1st of January 2021.

The information note addresses two groups of persons in contemplation of a no-deal Brexit; those with an EU treaty rights application submitted and pending and those holding a valid Stamp 4 EUFam residence card on the 12th of April 2019.

With respect to those who have an application that is still being processed, the information note provides no further information other than to state that such persons are not required to take any action at this time.

For those who are currently holding a valid Stamp 4 EUFam residence card, the information note seeks to reassure that you do not need to worry about losing your right to residence in the State in the case of a no-deal scenario.

It states that, although in a no-deal scenario EU law, in particular the provisions of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015, will no longer apply to you, the Irish government is currently putting in place arrangements to allow a transfer under domestic immigration provisions, which will provide for your continued residence in the State.

It is further stated that the aim of the arrangements being put in place is that you will retain, as far as possible, similar rights to those you have held as the holder of a Stamp 4 EU Fam residence card, including with regard to access to the labour market.

The Department states that they are currently in the process of putting in place a communication strategy that, in the case of a no-deal scenario, will include directly contacting individuals who will be affected by the above.

Further, addressing the matter of UK nationals coming to the State after the 12th of April 2019, if no deal has been made and there is no extension of the negotiating time, the Department provides no information other than to state that they will be issuing further updates on their website in this regard.

The note is also silent in relation to family members of British/UK citizens who have applications for entry visas to the State pending with Irish Embassies/ Visa Offices abroad and the INIS visa office, Dublin. It is unclear as to what the status of such applications will be in the event of a no deal scenario.

If you think you or your family members may be affected by Brexit it is advisable to regularly check the Department’s website, which they state will be updated as developments continue. Berkeley Solicitors will also update the Immigration Blog as further information becomes available.

The full text of the information note can be found here. (http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/information-note-on-non-eea-family-member-of-uk-citizens-seeking-eu-treaty-rights )

NOTE ON DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS WEB PAGE RE BRITAIN’S DEPARTURE FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION

British and EU citizens and their non-EEA Family members understandably have a lot of questions and concerns regarding their status, rights of residence and ongoing rights following Britain’s Departure from the EU.

Highly published negotiations are ongoing between the EU and Britain in order to agree the terms and conditions of Britain’s ultimate departure from the EU.

The primary/initial stages of this negotiation process addressed in principle three main issues, including, guaranteeing citizen’s rights, the rights of those currently living in the UK and UK citizens currently living in the EU.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has placed a section on its webpage specifically dedicated to Brexit and Ireland’s position with regards to same.

A note on same currently outlines that, in principle, certain elements of the draft Withdrawal Agreement have been agreed by the EU and UK negotiating teams.

Of particular note is the agreement in principle that EU law will continue to apply to the UK after it leaves the EU on 29th March 2019 up until 31st December 2020.

The draft proposals relating to the protection of EU citizens rights in the UK outlines that EU citizens and their family members will be required to apply for “status” in the UK within two years from the date of withdrawal- up to 29th March 2021. The draft proposals that the UK will apply a system for the grant of “UK status” under the same requirements as Directive 2004/38/EC. In essence if an applicant- EU citizen/ Non-EEA Family member of an EU citizen would have been/is eligible for residence in the UK under the Directive, then UK status will be issued to them. If applicants would not have been eligible/ met the conditions under the Directive then UK Status will be refused- those refused will be entitled to judicial redress if their applications are refused.

Full agreement of course has yet to be reached in terms of the manner of Britain’s exit from the EU and the impact this will have on the rights of EU and British citizens and their family members.