Brexit Concept

Deal or no deal? Stay or leave? The matter is still as uncertain as ever. What we do now know is that the current deadline for making this decision is extended to 31st October 2019. If the government agrees on a deal before that date the UK may leave the EU earlier.

The current EEA Regulations will continue to apply until the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, the EU Settlement Scheme opened to all EEA, Swiss, EFTA nationals and their non-EEA family members on 30th March 2019.

There is current guidance on what is likely to happen in the event of either a deal or no deal. It is important to note that this is only a plan at this stage. This information is still fully open to negotiation and change. By no means is this future plan guaranteed.

Current No Deal Plan

If the UK leaves the European Union with no deal, individuals who are present in the UK by the date the UK leaves the EU (latest 31st October 2019) would have until 31st December 2020 to obtain the new pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. This would be mandatory to protect your status in the UK, even if you already hold a permanent status document granted under the EEA Regulations.

EU citizens and any non-EEA family members present in the UK from January 2021 without valid permission to enter or reside in the UK would be present in the UK unlawfully and subject to enforcement action. The exception to this are citizens of Ireland who would continue to have the right to enter, live and work in the UK as they do currently.

Individuals who enter the UK before the date UK leaves the EU (known as “exit day”) will enter as normal, with their passport as EEA nationals, or by applying for an EEA Family Permit as non-EEA national family members.

The government have now published guidance for individuals who enter the UK after exit day, but before 1 January 2021 in the event of no deal. Such individuals will be admitted under British Immigration Rules and it will be necessary for them to apply for leave to enter or remain if they wish to reside in the UK for longer than 3 months.

Further, such individuals will not have a right to access public funds in the way EEA nationals could under free movement rules. The government White Paper sets out that these individuals would only have a right to public funds once they have obtained settled status in the UK.

From exit day (when free movement is ended) those EEA, Swiss and EFTA nationals arriving in the UK will be granted an initial 3 months leave to enter. The application will incur a fee that is yet to be confirmed. However, there would be no Home Office fee for this initial leave to enter.

On successful application, the individual would be issued with 3 years leave to remain. This will allow the individual right to work and study in the UK. This is temporary leave only and cannot be extended.

If an individual with three years leave to remain wishes to extend their leave, they will need to apply for status under the new Immigration Rules in force from 1st January 2021. Alternatively, if they were eligible to switch into another visa route from inside the UK they could do so. Of course, this may change their eligibility to public funds.

The same rules will apply to non-EU family members wishing to travel with or join their EU family member. They will apply as the dependent of the EU citizen. Eligibility to public funds would be the same as their EU family member.

From 1st January 2021 employers, landlords etc. would be required to check the status of all EU nationals on application to them for employment or tenancy etc. This will be done using the Home Office’s Digital Status Checker.

Future Skills Based Leave and Seasonal Agricultural Work
There will be two new work routes: a) Skilled workers and b) Temporary short-term workers. Skilled workers will be granted longer periods of leave to remain in the UK and able to bring their dependents. This route may lead to settlement in some situations.

There would also be various other routes such as Youth Mobility and Creative & Sporting Industry.

Temporary short-term workers would not have to be sponsored by an employer and cover all skill levels. This route would only be available for migrants from specified low-risk countries.

There are current plans for a pilot seasonal scheme to open this year for agricultural workers to apply to work in the UK. This scheme is temporary but may be implemented permanently in the future, depending of the success of this pilot.

Summary
The current government proposal is that in the event of a no deal, the requirements for EU citizens to enter and reside in the UK will, on the whole, be brought in line with British immigration rules from 1st January 2021 onwards.

It is imperative to note the UK will not be bound by the implementation period set out in the withdrawal agreement, or any proposal they have made as detailed above. Therefore, it is preferable to apply under the EU settlement scheme in early course to avoid further uncertainty. Additionally, if there are plans for family members to join EEA nationals to reside in the UK it is sensible to do so without delay if possible.

If you wish assistance with an application under the new EU Settlement Scheme, or general advice on your or a family member’s status, please contact a member of our immigration department.