No deal Brexit: the implications for foreign nationals

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As part of the UK Government’s contingency planning for a “no deal” scenario, a new policy paper has been published setting out the proposed rights of European Economic Area, EEA, and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK after 29th March, 2019, if no deal is agreed with the EU. Hesham Shoeb, Employment & Immigration Associate at Barlow Robbins LLP (Ecovis UK), discusses the status of EU nationals in the UK in the event of a “no deal“ Brexit.

It is proposed that between 30th March, 2019, and 31st December, 2020, EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to stay in the UK for up to three months without having to apply for immigration status. They will automatically be granted leave to enter by order, which will mean they can stay for up to three months and will be permitted to work and study, which will mean they can start those activities on arrival.

Those wishing to stay longer than three months will have to apply for a new status called European Temporary Leave to Remain. The application will need to be made online within 3 months of arriving in the UK. Applicants will have to prove their identity and declare any criminal convictions. Anyone considered a serious or persistent criminal threat will not be eligible to apply.

Those granted European Temporary Leave to Remain will be able to stay in the UK for 36 months from the date of their application. It will be a temporary, non-extendable immigration status, and will not give rise to settlement rights. Non-EEA family members will have to apply for a permit before accompanying them or joining them in the UK.

Irish citizens will not need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain, as they will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK under the Common Travel Area arrangements. EU and Swiss nationals residing in the UK prior to 29th March, 2019, will be able to apply for settled status or pre-settled status when the scheme fully opens on 30th March, 2019.

After January 2021, EEA and Swiss nationals will have to apply for immigration status under the new immigration system. Those who do not qualify will have to leave the UK when their European Temporary Leave to Remain expires. At present, this remains a policy paper and would need to be ratified by parliament to take effect. Should a deal with the EU be agreed before 29th March, 2019, free movement rights will continue until 31st December, 2020.

Barlow Robbins (Ecovis UK) can help businesses secure the residency rights of their UK-based EU staff and advise on the cshanges to the immigration system following Brexit.  


Hesham Shoeb, Employment & Immigration Associate, Barlow Robbins LLP, Guildford, Surrey, UK


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