What will a No-Deal Brexit mean for EU Citizens in the UK?

Since the election of the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the instalment of his new cabinet and the most recent news that the UK parliament will now be suspended until October 14th (which has been approved by the Queen) scenarios surrounding a no-deal Brexit must be seriously considered as it seems that the UK could indeed be heading to leave the EU on October 31st 2019 without a deal.

So what does this mean in legal reality? Our latest article explains it.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the country will no longer need to respect the implementation periods laid out under the deal that the former Prime Minister Teresa May negotiated with Brussels and tried to gain support for in the UK. If a no-deal become a reality then the UK as stated by the current Prime Minister and his cabinet Ministers will intend to end free movement as soon as possible by enacting the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill that was introduced to Parliament on 20 December 2018. This particular bill will repeal the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016, which currently is the framework that implements the free movement of people in UK law.

Our team of immigration solicitors advise that in the event of no-deal Brexit, EU citizens and their family members who are already in the UK by October 31st 2019 can stay in the country and will have until 31 December 2020 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme either for pre-settled status or settled status.

However, if free movement ends on October 31st 2019 new EU citizens arriving in the UK (after this date) with the aim to live and work in the country for the long term will be subject to UK immigration rules and will need to get permission by applying for “leave to remain” through the relevant immigration channels. This new legal immigration route will not be a rights-based system as previously allowed under the free movement of people and will therefore not allow EU citizens/EU Nationals the right to remain in the UK automatically. If you do so, you will be breaking the law and will be subject to legal action from the Home Office.

The UK government has said that the arrangements for short visits, i.e. tourists and business visitors will not be any different and those of you who are EU citizens and who want to enter the UK for a short visit will be able to stay for a period of three months without a visa. However, if you would like to stay for longer than 3 months you will need to apply to the Home Office for leave to remain within three months of arrival and our team of immigration lawyers can help you with such an application and advise you on the fees involved. If you do choose to do this, you will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks and you will be given the status of leave to remain for a period of 36 months where you will be allowed to work and study. This route to gain entrance in the UK for longer than 3 months and up to 36 months has been classed as non-extendable, so those EU nationals who wish to stay longer than 36 months will need to apply under the future border and immigration system arrangements.

Our team of immigration solicitors London state that it is difficult to know exactly what the future skills-based immigration system is and when it will take shape in the UK, however, it has been stated by the UK government that it will resemble something similar to the Australian points-based system. The government has also indicated in a communication put forth by the Home Office that it is important to allow sufficient time to grant immigration status to resident EU citizens before starting to implement the new skills-based immigration system as until this is done properly it will not be possible for employers, universities, landlords and others to distinguish between pre-Brexit residents who will have different immigration rights over those who arrived after October 31st2019.

All of the above rules outlined in this article will also apply to citizens of EFTA states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) who will arrive in the UK before, on, or after October 31st 2019. Irish citizens, as a result of previous domestic Common Travel Area arrangements, on the other hand, will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK after a no-deal Brexit.

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