Rights of EU Citizens to work in the UK after Brexit

  • Posted

An update on the rights of EU Citizens to work in the UK after Brexit.

Current position

  • citizens of EU Member States have the right to live and work in another Member State.

Transition period (31 October 2019 – 31 December 2020) (Brexit deal)

  • if a deal is adopted on the same or similar terms to those set out by Theresa May previously, there will be a transition period in place from 31 October 2019 to 31 December 2020
  • any EU citizens residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have the right to apply for settled status or pre-settled status until 30 June 2021
  • from 1 July 2021, EU citizens must have settled or pre-settled status or, if they were not living in the UK by 31 December 2020, an alternative immigration status.

No deal Brexit (exit on 31 October 2019)

  • the Government has said that EU citizens already residing in the UK by 31 October 2019 will have until 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status if there is a no deal Brexit
  • the Home Office confirmed on 21 August 2019 that despite media coverage, this plan has not changed. EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK on 31 October will have until 31 December 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status, and those who are eligible for status but are not in the UK on 31 October will be able to freely enter the UK. All benefits will remain as presently available
  • it is, however, unclear as to how this will be monitored at borders and further information is expected if a no deal becomes more likely
  • on 28 January 2019, the Home Office set out plans that in the event of a no deal Brexit, EU citizens and family members will, for a transitional period (period to be confirmed) be able to come to the UK for visits, work or study and enter the UK as they do now. To stay longer than three months they will need to apply for permission and receive European Temporary Leave to Remain, valid for a further three years. EU Citizens wishing to stay for longer than three years will need to apply under the new skills based future immigration system, which will begin from 2021.

Application for settled status (in both scenarios)

  • EU citizens may apply for settled status if they have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK at the time of applying, or pre-settled status if they have resided in the UK for less than five years
  • pre-settled status enables EU citizens to live in the UK and then apply for settled status when their five years’ continuous residency comes around
  • settled status gives individuals and their families indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • EU citizens are able to apply for settled status and the easiest way to do so is online. Businesses may wish to support their staff by allowing them computer access (as some of the apps have been difficult to use) and reminding staff of the steps they need to take to get pre- or settled status
  • five years’ continuous residence means living in the UK for at least six months in any 12 month period for five years in a row.

Post-31 December 2020 or earlier if legislation changes on no deal

  • the current points based system will continue to apply and the Government plans to prioritise skilled migrants
  • there are transitional plans in place for low/non-skilled migrants who will be able to move to the UK to work for 12 months. They will then not be able to apply again for a further 12 months
  • there is a pilot scheme in place from spring 2019 for two years allowing 2,500 non-EU migrants to come to work on farms for seasonal work for six months.

Nothing in this briefing note should be taken as specific advice on the immigration position of any individual person, and further immigration advice should be taken if there are any queries. The information in this note is up to date as at 23 August 2019.

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