The IMA protects the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens, and the rights of their family members, living in the UK. We monitor UK public bodies to make sure they uphold the rights of EU citizens and to identify any systemic issues. We have the powers to launch inquiries and bring legal action, if appropriate, against bodies that don’t uphold the rights of EU citizens.
The IMA will consider any complaints where the treatment of an EU or EEA EFTA citizen, or their family member, by a UK public body falls short of the UK’s commitments. People may feel they’re being discriminated against in cases relating to housing, health care, education, immigration, justice or more.
A public body is any organisation or institution that provides a public service, such as councils, hospitals, job centres, schools and police stations.
The IMA upholds the rights of citizens from the 27 EU countries and those from the EEA EFTA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement reached with the EU and the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement reached with the EEA EFTA nations.
The IMA does not have the power to uphold the rights of Swiss citizens (unless they also fall within the remit of the Withdrawal Agreement or EEA EFTA Separation Agreement, for example as a family member of an EU or EEA EFTA citizen living in the UK) as the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement, reached between the UK and Switzerland, does not include a requirement for an independent body.
Citizens’ rights are set out in Part II of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Part II of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.
The citizens’ rights that the IMA covers are set out in Part II of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Part II of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.
Rights agreements between the UK and EU cover four areas:
Residency: The right to live in the UK and Gibraltar.
Workers and self-employed: The right to work in the UK, including self-employed people, and frontier workers who live in the EU but work in the UK.
Recognition of professional qualifications: The right for specified EU professionals, like Doctors, Nurses and Architects, to be recognised in the UK, if they have registered their qualifications by 31 December 2020.
Social Security: The right to access housing, healthcare, education, benefits and other state services.
The right to equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of nationality apply to all these rights.
The Withdrawal Agreement means EU citizens and their family members living in the UK at the end of the transition period can stay in the UK. EU citizens and their family members need to apply for a new residence status through the EU Settlement Scheme. The Withdrawal Agreement provides a “grace period” for applications to be submitted and the deadline must be at least six months after the end of the transition period. In the UK, the deadline was 30 June 2021.
Citizens who do not have settled or pre-settled status after that time will not be covered by the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, apart from in some very limited and exceptional circumstances.
The complaints process
The Withdrawal Agreement and EEA EFTA Separation Agreement explain who is a family member. For example it includes a spouse, registered partner or direct relatives in the ascending line. This could include individuals who are EU or EEA EFTA citizens but equally, it could include a family member who is not an EU or EEA EFTA citizen (often referred to as a ‘third country national’).
Citizens can choose to make a complaint with assistance from a representative organisation if they do not feel personally comfortable submitting their complaint in English.
Personal details will not be shared without prior consent.
An example of where the IMA may wish to share personal details shared with us could be to enable the public body complained about to identify an issue of concern. It could also arise where the IMA takes legal action against a public body in court. However, any such sharing will be done with the consent of the individual concerned and only where it is necessary to do so.
The IMA exists to tackle systemic issues, practices and behaviours that cause widespread or persistent infringements of rights, for the benefit of the whole EU community in the UK. If you feel any government or public service has treated you unfairly, it is important that you complain to the IMA. If we receive many complaints about a certain issue it’s more likely that there’s a big problem that needs resolving. However, you should also raise your complaint with existing organisations that consider individual cases.
The recognition of professional qualifications is included in Part 2 of the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements. However, it only covers those qualifications that had been recognised before 31 December 2020, or in the course of being recognised before that date. Any qualifications not recognised or in the course of being recognised before that date, and therefore also any qualifications obtained after that date, are not covered by the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements.