On 11 April 2019, European Union leaders agreed to grant the UK a six-month extension to the date of its departure from the EU. The UK had been set to leave on 12 April 2019.
The UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal.
The status of EU citizens living in the UK
The status of EU citizens living in the UK has not changed. Their rights are still governed by EU law and they continue to benefit from free movement rights, including the right to work and study in the UK.
Last year, the UK opened the voluntary EU Settlement Scheme. This enables EU citizens who are living in the UK to obtain permission to remain in the UK under UK domestic legislation. Until the UK leaves the EU, this will operate alongside EU free movement law.
Exit with a deal
Once the UK leaves the EU, in the event that this is on the basis of an agreement reached with the EU, we expect, depending on the exact terms of the agreement, that EU citizens will be able to continue to live in the UK and will need to apply for UK immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme by June 2021 (unless that date is extended). The exact details will depend on the final agreement reached but, with the emphasis on issues such as the Irish backstop and not on the rights of citizens, we do not expect there to be significant changes to the current proposals.
Exit without a deal
If there is a no-deal Brexit, the UK government’s current position is that EU nationals coming to live in the UK after the date the UK leaves the EU will be subject to UK domestic legislation. They would be able to enter the UK for up to three months initially and would then have to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain, which would be granted for up to three years. Thereafter, they would need to make an application under the UK’s immigration system.
In the event of a no deal exit, EU citizens already living in the UK will be protected and will be able to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (although the deadline date for making applications and the rules relating to family are likely to be more restrictive than in the case of a deal).
If you require more information or advice
We have updated our Brexit Immigration Analysis in order to provide guidance for EU nationals who are living in the UK and those who are considering moving to the UK. It also contains information on how to make an application and on the various scenarios that may arise.
If you require further information or advice, please contact us.