Brexit update 

15 February 2019

EU citizens living in the UK

Where are we now? 

On 23 June 2016 the United Kingdom held a referendum about the UK’s membership of the EU. Based on the outcome of this referendum the UK invoked article 50, signalling its intention to leave the EU, on 29 March 2017. Because of this the UK will leave the EU no later than 30 March 2019, 0:00 (29 March 2019, 23:00 in the UK). The UK and the EU concluded an agreement establishing how the UK would leave the EU and how the process would go, including a transition period starting immediately after the leave date (this agreement is known as “the deal”). Both the EU and the UK parliament will have to approve the deal before it comes in to force. As of today the UK parliament has not approved the deal.

What does that mean?

The UK will leave the EU at the end of the day on 29 March 2019 unless the UK and all EU countries agree to postpone the UK’s departure. Currently a postponement seems highly unlikely. That means that there are two possible ways the UK will leave the EU: with or without an agreement with the EU. In case of no agreement (the no-deal scenario) all agreements between the UK and EU will cease to exist and the EU relationship with the UK will become similar to that with any other country outside of the EU. 

In the deal situation a transition period will start, during which EU law mostly remains applicable. 

Below we will discuss the impact on EU citizens in the United Kingdom both in case of a deal and a no-deal scenario.

In case of a deal

In case of a deal, initially nothing will really change as the UK would leave the EU but at the same time, the transition period would start. During the transition period EU law related to the free movement of EU citizens will still apply. The transition period is expected to end on 31 December 2020.  

EU citizens who have arrived before or on 29 March 2019

EU citizens can apply for residence status under the EU settlement scheme. If they have lived in the UK for 5 years or more they will receive settled status. If they have not yet lived in the UK for 5 years they will receive pre-settled status. Once the EU citizen has been in the UK for 5 years he can apply for settled status. The scheme will be fully operational by 30 March 2019. 

EU citizens who arrive after 29 March 2019

EU citizens who arrive during the transition period (30 March 2019 till 31 December 2020) will be able to apply for temporary leave to remain and will be able to apply for settled status after 5 years of residence. 

In case of no-deal

EU citizens who have arrived before or on 29 March 2019

On the 28th of January the UK government released a policy paper outlining the UK’s plans in case of a no deal. EU citizens who have arrived before the UK leaves the EU will be allowed to live and work in the UK under the “EU settlement Scheme”. 

EU citizens who arrive after 29 March 2019

A lot is still unclear here, but the most likely situation for EU citizens arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019 will be that there will be a transition period. This transition period however will be different from the one that what be implemented in case of a deal. Below we will discuss 3 situations under the current plan shared by the UK government. 

Short term visits to the UK

In the current plans shared by the UK government, EU citizens do not need a visa or work permit to enter, stay and work for a period of up to 3 months. If the EU citizen wants to stay longer than 3 months they need to apply for a residence permit (see below) but this application can be filed while in the UK. Non-EU spouses will need to apply for visa for short and long term stay, depending on their nationality. 

3 year permit for EU citizens

EU citizens can apply for a non-renewable 3 year permit. This permit can be applied for when the EU citizen is already in the UK. But this permit cannot be extended and will not lead to permanent residence status (no indefinite leave to remain). 

Long term stay after the 3 year permit expires

At the end of the 3 year period granted by the permit for EU citizens, an application must be filed in accordance with skill based immigration rules. It is not yet known what the requirements will be under those new immigration rules, but the UK government has already indicated that it is possible that some will not be able to meet the requirements and will have to leave when their 3 year permit expires.