This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the EEA Nationals (Indefinite Leave to Remain) Bill [HL], scheduled to take place on 19 July 2019.
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The EEA Nationals (Indefinite Leave to Remain) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Oates (Liberal Democrat). The bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 6 July 2017 and is due to receive its second reading on 19 July 2019.
Once the UK leaves the EU, free movement rights will end. EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will become subject to UK immigration controls. Lord Oates has stated that the purpose of the bill is as follows:
The EEA Nationals (Indefinite Leave to Remain) Bill would provide a guarantee in British law that, regardless of the outcome of the EU withdrawal process, EU citizens, other EEA nationals and their family members living in the UK at the time of exit from the EU, would be granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
The bill would grant the right of abode to EEA nationals who were resident in the UK on the date of exit from the EU and their family members.
The Government has already established a scheme to allow EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK and their family members to secure their long-term status in the UK post-Brexit. This scheme is in line with the citizens’ rights provisions of the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK. The Government has said it will continue with the EU Settlement Scheme if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. However, there would be some changes to the scheme if that happened, for example to the cut-off dates for applying.
Unlike the arrangement proposed by the bill, the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme does not automatically grant the right to remain lawfully in the UK after Brexit. Instead, individuals must make an application. The status they are granted depends on the length of the applicant’s residency in the UK. The design of the scheme has been criticised for requiring individuals to make an application. Groups such as The 3 Million (a campaign group representing EU citizens in the UK) and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee support a declaratory approach. This would mean EEA citizens residing in the UK before a certain date would automatically acquire a new status allowing them to stay, and they could apply for a document to prove their status.