Business Immigration Update – EU Citizens and a ‘No Deal’ Brexit

August 21, 2019

There have been reports in the press and on social media regarding the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK after we leave the European Union. Most legal rights for EU citizens are contained in secondary legislation in the form of explanatory notes and Government circulars rather than UK statute.

Some inaccurate reporting has suggested that, once freedom of movement ends after Brexit, EU citizens’ resident in the UK will be left in “legal limbo”.

What is happening? Is freedom of movement ending on October 31?

The UK intends to leave the EU on 31 October. This will mean that freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when the UK leaves the EU.

What does this mean? Will EU citizens still be able to come here on holiday?

EU citizens will still be able to come to the UK on holiday and for short trips, but what will change are the arrangements for people coming to the UK for longer periods of time and for work and study. Details of other changes immediately after 31 October to the previous Government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed and at an advanced stage.

When is the new immigration system going to be in place?

Details of other immigration changes immediately after 31 October to the previous Government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed with the Government setting out its blueprint plans shortly. The Prime Minister has been clear that he wants to introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system. The Home Secretary is commissioning the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine this further. The intention is for the Government to take control of UK borders while still welcoming the talented and hardworking people that the British economy requires. It is likely any new system will involve more stringent and complex immigration rules moving forward.

Doesn’t this create great uncertainty for EU citizens?

The Prime Minister has made it clear that all EU citizens resident here by 31 October will be welcome to stay and should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. More than one million people have already been granted “settled” or “pre-settled” status under the EU Settlement Scheme, meaning that their rights are enshrined in law. This scheme covers all EU citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October.

How do you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme provides an opportunity for EU citizens and their family members who want to stay in the UK to get the UK immigration status they need. The easiest way to apply is online. EU citizens have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.

What happens if I am a EU citizen, who already lives in the UK, but is abroad when free movement ends?

In this scenario, EU citizens and their families would still be eligible for the EU settlement Scheme because they live in the UK. No one eligible for status will be barred from re-entering the UK when free movement ends.

What’s the message to EU citizens who are anxious?

The EU Settlement Scheme protects the rights of EU citizens in law. It should be encouraged for EU citizens to apply to the scheme.

Will EU citizens and their families who are here before 31 October still be able to access benefits and services as they do now after free movement ends? How will they differentiate themselves from people arriving after 31 October if they haven’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme?

It should be encouraged for EU citizens and their families to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme. However, for those who haven’t applied when free movement ends, they will still have the same entitlements to work, benefits and services and will be able to prove these in the same way as they do now. The Government shortly intends to outline the arrangements for EU citizens and their families who arrive after free movement ends after 31 October.#

Will lorry drivers entering the UK on or after 1 November have to have their passports checked at Calais?

Yes, all incoming passengers (including freight drivers) need to have their travel documents checked when travelling between UK and France.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Immigration is a complex area of law for both corporates and individuals.  Please contact our Business Immigration / Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Conor McCrory, Associate, Immigration Law Team, Cleaver Fulton Rankin, Solicitors.