Immigration rights of EEA citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit
The Government has now announced the revised transitional arrangements that will apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their close family members arriving in the UK after Brexit, replacing those set out in a January 2019 policy paper issued under the previous Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Government’s new policy paper means that law-abiding EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK after a no-deal Brexit and before the end of 2020 will be able to enter, live, work and study as they do now. The new transitional arrangements provide that:
- There will be a transition period from the date of Brexit until 31 December 2020, during which time EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who move to the UK will be able to apply for a three-year temporary immigration status, to be called European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR). Although applications will be voluntary, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will need to apply for Euro TLR if they wish to remain in the UK beyond 31 December 2020.
- Applications made under the new Euro TLR scheme will be free of charge and will be made after arrival in the UK. It will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks. Successful applicants will be given a digital status, granting them three years’ leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted.
- EU, EEA and Swiss citizens wishing to stay in the UK after their Euro TLR expires will need to make a further application under the UK’s future new points-based immigration system (to be based on skills) which is due to be implemented from January 2021. This is likely to mean that low-skilled workers may need to leave their jobs and the UK when their three years’ Euro TLR expires if they do not meet the requisite criteria to have a right to remain in the UK under the new immigration system.
- Any EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who move to the UK after Brexit and do not apply for Euro TLR will need to leave the UK by 31 December 2020, unless they have applied for and obtained an immigration status under the new immigration system by that date. Otherwise, they will be here unlawfully and will be liable to enforcement action, detention and removal as an immigration offender.
- Time spent in the UK with Euro TLR status will count towards settlement.
- Employers will not be required to distinguish between EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive before and after Brexit until the new immigration system is introduced from January 2021. This means that right to work checks for employers will remain the same until January 2021, so EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can start work by providing a passport or ID card until this date, or they can use their digital status granted under the Euro TLR scheme to prove their right to work via the Home Office’s digital status checking service. Employers will not be required to make retrospective right to work checks of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who start work before 1 January 2021, but anyone employed after this date will need to show that they have a valid UK immigration status.
There will also be some new border controls to make it harder for serious criminals to enter the UK.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens are their family members who are already living in the UK before Brexit still have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled or pre-settled status.
Irish citizens’ rights are unaffected by the new arrangements, and they can continue to come to the UK after Brexit to live and work.