Brexit – impact on immigration status of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals

The EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals who already reside in the UK and those who plan to come here to work, study, run a business or to live here as self-sufficient persons, are facing uncertainty on their immigration status following Brexit. As the Withdrawal Agreement has not yet been approved by the UK, we have to consider two Brexit scenarios: 1) the UK departs the EU with a deal and (2) the UK departs the EU without a deal. At present the no deal scenario is more likely unless there are further developments in the coming weeks.

No deal  Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the free movement rights for EU/EEA  and Swiss citizens will most likely end on 12th April 2019 (best to arrive in the UK by 11th April 2019). Based on the information currently published by the UK government, the following is likely to apply in a no deal scenario:

  • Those who arrive in the UK from 12th April until 31st December 2020 will be admitted to the UK for up to 3 months with the right to work and study.
  • Those who want to remain in the UK in excess of 3 months would be required to apply for a permit called ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain’ which will be issued for 3 years. The application will need to be made within 3 months of arrival in the UK and there will be a government fee to pay (the amount has not yet been confirmed). This permit will give the right to work and study for 3 years. The intention is for the permit to be of a temporary nature. It cannot be extended beyond 3 years and it does NOT lead to settlement/Indefinite leave to remain rights in the UK.
  • After 3 years the ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain’ holders who want to remain in the UK will need to apply for an immigration permit under the new immigration rules that will be introduced on 1st January 2021.

Brexit with a deal

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal agreed, there will be a transition period until 31st December 2020 during which free movement rights for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will continue. Those arriving in the UK by 31st December 2020 will be able to acquire permanent residence status in the UK on the basis of their EU/EEA/Swiss citizenship and continued 5 year residence in the UK as a worker, self-employed, self-sufficient person or student.

Recommendations

  • Those EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who are considering moving to the UK should do so by 11th April 2019 if they can.
  • Those EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have already lived in the UK for 5 years and exercised Treaty Rights (i.e. were employed, self-employed, students, self-sufficient persons) should apply for a document confirming Permanent Residence under the current EU Regulations.
  • Those EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have the 5 years continuous residence in the UK but who are unable to apply for a document confirming Permanent Residence under the EU Regulations (e.g. because they cannot gather all the supporting documents required for the application), should apply for a Settled status (equivalent to Permanent Residence) under the newly introduced EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Those EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who are already in the UK but do not have the 5 years continuous residence and those who will still arrive by 11th April 2019, should apply for a Pre-Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The EU Settlement Scheme is fully open for applications from 30th March 2019.

The information contained in the article reflects legal position on 1st April 2019 and is for general information purposes only and does not aim  to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. We accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Carter Lemon Camerons immigration team. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact our immigration team at immigration@cartercamerons.com or +44 (0)20 7406 1000.