On 6 December 2018, the UK Government finally published its long awaited proposals on EU citizens’ rights in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement having been reached. This is often referred to as a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Carter Thomas associate Ruth Jowett considers the new proposals.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement, published on 14 November 2018, sets out the proposed terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. As part of this agreement, post Brexit, EU nationals in the UK would be able to make applications under the EU Settlement Scheme until June 2021.
In its Policy Paper – ‘Citizens’ Rights – EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU’ – the Government states that it is its intention that the EU Settlement Scheme, currently being piloted, will ‘protect’ those EU citizens resident in the UK by the time the UK leaves the EU, with the basis for qualifying for status remaining the same.
Along with this commitment come assurances that ‘the application system will continue to be streamlined and user friendly’ and that caseworkers will be ‘looking to grant status, not for reasons to refuse’.
Less protection than the draft Withdrawal Agreement
However, the information contained within the paper clearly demonstrates that EU citizens will not receive the same level of protection in a ‘no deal’ scenario compared to that promised in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
One of the major points of difference set out within the paper is that in order to be eligible to use the EU Settlement Scheme in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, EU citizens must be resident in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. If an agreement was to be reached, EU citizens would instead have until 31 December 2020 to move to the UK and apply under the Scheme.
Further variances in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit include:
- applications under the EU Settlement Scheme from those living in the UK by 29 March 2019 would have to be made by 31 December 2020. Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement, applicants have until 30 June 2021;
- those refused under the EU Settlement Scheme would only have the option to seek an administrative review or judicial review of that decision;
- those EU citizens moving to the UK after 1 April 2019 would be covered by a different, as yet to be published system, until ‘the new UK immigration system’ is introduced;
- the EU deportation threshold would cease to apply as of 29 March 2019, from which point the harsher UK deportation threshold will become applicable;
- the 29 March 2022 would be the new cut-off date for ‘existing close family members…living overseas at exit’ (or children subsequently born overseas) to join an EU citizen with settled status in the UK as of 29 March 2019. There is no such cut off date in the draft Withdrawal Agreement. After 29 March 2022, these family members would have to apply under the general Immigration Rules.
Right to work/rent checks
The paper explains that employers and landlords seeking evidence that an EU citizen, living in the UK by 29 March 2019, has the right to work/rent would be able to rely on the EU passport or identity card until 31 December 2020.
There is no information in the paper as to the evidence an EU citizen who moves to the UK between 1 April 2019 and the implementation of a new immigration system on 1 January 2020 would need to produce to an employer or landlord seeking evidence of their status.
The above is just a summary of the proposals and a significant amount of detail is still needed to assist EU citizens and their family members, employers, landlords, education providers and others. We will be monitoring developments closely and will provide updates as soon as further information becomes available. For further information, please contact us.
You can read our up to date information on Brexit here.