The Government has introduced before Parliament a Statutory Instrument (“SI”) with the aim of amending primary and secondary legislation to take into account the UK’s departure from the European Union whilst ensuring that immigration, nationality and asylum laws will continue to operate effectively until new legislation is approved by Parliament in due course.
The Government has already published a White Paper on a new skills-based immigration system, however it has also committed to a further period of consultation with stakeholders and it will take some time to develop the legislation for a new whole-of-world immigration regime.
The SI is part of the process of ensuring that the UK will not face a legal “cliff-edge” on departure, “deal” or “no-deal”. Essentially, the regulations seek to amend the statute book to ensure that the UK’s existing immigration laws make sense after Brexit.
Working across seven legislative groups, the instrument addresses deficiencies that arise as a result of the UK leaving the EU, in the body of EU law that has been retained in domestic legislation by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
When will these come into force?
The provisions come into force on exit day in a “no deal” scenario, or in a deal scenario from the end of the planned implementation period on 31 December 2020, as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union published in November 2018.
Avoiding a legislative vacuum
The SI means a legislative vacuum should not be the outcome of a no deal Brexit. It will come into force on exit day.
The UK’s departure from the European Union will result in the most significant shake up to the UK’s legal framework for generations. The purpose of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and this statutory instrument is to preserve the EU acquis in domestic law following our departure. The SI is essentially a “tidying up” exercise to ensure continuity of laws.
What are the pitfalls to look out for?
The whole of the UK’s post- Brexit immigration framework remains unresolved so there is a great deal to be mindful of over the long-term.
There are around 50 amendments in the regulations. Most are simply “holding measures” to preserve the status quo whilst the Brexit process runs its course.
The regulations bring the reality of leaving the European Union into sharp focus. The UK will step away from co-operation measures on issues such as joint removal flights, immigration officer liaison and the European Migration Network.
The Dublin III regulation on the swift removal of asylum seekers to mainland Europe will disappear, as will the Eurodac fingerprinting system and the European Asylum Support Office.
This is just the beginning of a process leading to a fully autonomous set of immigration laws and asylum procedures that immigration lawyers will have to adapt to over the long term.