On 6 December 2018, the Government set out that in the event of a no deal scenario, EEA citizens who are resident in the UK by the time the UK leaves the EU would continue to be able to apply for status in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme.

Yesterday (30th January 2019), the Home Secretary set out provisions for EEA citizens and their family members arriving in the UK after we leave the EU in the event the UK leaves without agreeing a deal. In this scenario, the Government will end free movement, and this will happen as soon as practically possible. The Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill has been introduced to achieve this.

Yesterday’s announcement confirms that, in the event that the UK leaves the UK without a deal, there will be a transition period until the UK’s new skills-based immigration system is introduced at the beginning of 2021.

The transition period will be used to put in place arrangements for the new system in 2021 and to provide status under the EU Settlement Scheme to those EEA citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK before exit.

During this transition period:

  • EEA citizens arriving in the UK to visit for up to three months will not see any changes. They will not require a visa and may continue to enter the UK using a valid passport or identity card.
  • EEA citizens who wish to stay in the UK for longer than three months will need to make an application within this time in order to do so.
  • Subject to identity, criminality and security checks, permission to stay in the UK (European temporary leave to remain) will be granted for 36 months leave to remain.
  • This permission to stay for 36 months is temporary and cannot be extended. Those who wish to stay for longer will need to apply and qualify under the terms of the UK’s new skills-based immigration system, which will begin from 1 January 2021.
  • Employers already conduct Right to Work checks on EEA citizens and that will not change. They do not have to differentiate between those who are resident in the UK before exit and those who arrive afterwards.
  • Until the new skills-based immigration system is introduced, EEA citizens will be able to evidence their right to work in the UK by using a passport or national identity card, as now.
  • EEA citizens who arrive during the transition period may be accompanied by close family members (their spouse, partner or dependent children under 18) from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), who will require a family permit before coming to the UK. They may enter for up to three months and may then apply as a dependant of an EEA citizen to stay in the UK for up to three years.
  • The details of benefits entitlements and NHS charging arrangements for EEA citizens during the transition period will be announced in due course

These arrangements will also apply to citizens of Switzerland arriving after exit in a no deal scenario. 

Further details are set out in the policy document.

Also, for those EU citizens already resident in the UK, employers may wish to assist employees from the EU in applaying for Settled Status. Further information can be obtained from the HTA's news article on the EU Citizens Settlement Scheme or going to the Governemnts EU Citizens living in the UK web pages

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