Immigration: UK Government issues guidance for EU Nationals in the event of No-Deal Brexit

1 February 2019 | Jonathan Martin

On Monday 28th January 2019, the UK Government published guidance regarding immigration for EU Nationals in the event that the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019 with no deal. The policy paper states that if there is no deal, the UK will:“seek to end freedom of movement as soon as possible through the Immigration and Social Security Contribution (EU Withdrawal) Bill”

In the case that the government implements the Immigration and Social Security Contribution Bill, they have put forward the following proposals that are subject to parliamentary approval:

(All of the arrangements described below for EU nationals also applies to EFTA state citizens)

Movement in and out of the UK

  • The paper states that there will be a temporary transitional arrangement from 30 March 2019 until 31 December 2020, to provide continuity, whilst the UK transitions from a rights-based to a skills-based immigration system.
  • Any EU Citizens and their family members who are already resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 have until the 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to protect their resident status.
  • As of 30 March 2019, once free movement has ended, any EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK require permission to enter or remain under UK immigration rules. Those who do not hold valid immigration permission may be liable to enforcement action.The government published the UK’s future skills-based immigration system on 19 December 2018.
  • Visiting the UK as a tourist or business visitor will not be any different, despite the underlying legal framework changing. EU citizens will be able to enter the UK as they can today for short-term visits of up to three months, and will not need a visa. Short-term visitors are also permitted to work or study.
  • The initial three months’ leave to enter will be free of charge for EU citizens. After, application fees will be payable. These fees have not yet been set out.
  • Those who wish to stay for longer than three months must apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain. They will then be granted to stay for 36 months, subject to identity, criminality and security checks.
  • If the EU citizen wishes to remain in the UK for longer than 36 months, they must apply under the new immigration system that comes into effect as of 1 January 2021. Details of which have not yet been published.
  • Those who do not qualify under the new arrangement need to leave the UK as soon as their leave expires.
  • EU citizens who arrive on or after 30 March 2019 may bring their close family members who are third country nationals, provided they have applied in advance for a family permit.
  • Irish citizens will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK.

Employment compliance

  • After 31 December 2020, employers and other third parties are not expected to distinguish between EU citizens who have been resident prior to or post 29 March 2019.
  • As of January 2021, employers will need to proactively check EU Citizens’ status through the Home Office’s Digital Status Checker.
  • Until 2021, EU citizens can still use their passport or national identity card to evidence their right to work or rent property.

Last week we published our take on how immigration could change in the EU in the various outcomes of Brexit, read more here.

Contact Us

If you have any queries on how these changes will impact your business, contact our team on +44(0)203 051 5711 or email us.


Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this article. For further legal information click here.

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