News & Insights

No-deal immigration

Imelda Reddington summarises the latest government plans for immigration rules in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Since our article in February, the government has revised its immigration arrangements for EU citizens and their families already resident in the UK, and for those who arrive in the UK after a withdrawal from the EU without a deal in place.

These revised arrangements apply additionally to citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, but not to Irish citizens.

1. EU Settlement Scheme

To obtain a new status allowing them to stay in the UK, EU citizens and members of their families already resident in the UK will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 31 December 2020.

2. Transitional Period

There will be a transitional period from the date of the UK’s withdrawal until 31 December 2020. During this period, EU citizens and members of their families not previously resident in the UK will be able to immigrate as they can now. Their passport or national identity card will be sufficient evidence of their right to do so. It will also be the period during which EU citizens and close members of their families should apply for European temporary leave to remain beyond 31 December 2020 (see more detail below).

3. After the Transitional period

Only if they wish to remain in the UK after 1 January 2021 would such EU citizens need to apply for a new UK immigration status to that effect. There are two ways in which arrivals after 2021 may be able to stay in the UK, as follows:

a. European temporary leave to remain (abbreviated to Euro TLR) will be introduced as a voluntary arrangement when the UK leaves the EU, and will permit continued residency after the transitional period has ended. This scheme will permit 36 months’ leave to remain in the UK, and applications will be free of charge. It will be possible for successful applicants to work, study, use the NHS, and receive benefits and pensions; and the 36 months spent in the UK will count towards any future qualifying period for settling permanently in the UK. Although extended non-EU family-members will be allowed to accompany EU citizens during the transitional period (see paragraph 2 above), European temporary leave to remain will be granted only to “close” family-members, namely spouses, partners, and dependent children under 18.

b. A new immigration system is expected to be introduced in January 2021, following comparative reviews of other international immigration systems. Only after such a system is introduced will employers and landlords be required to distinguish between EU citizens according to their date of arrival. Those who arrive after the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will need a valid UK immigration status in addition to proof of their EU citizenship.

If you have any questions about immigration in anticipation of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, please do not hesitate to contact Imelda Reddington.