Brexit: Changes to Freedom of Movement and Applying for Settled Status

February 2019

As 29 March 2019 draws ever nearer, it remains unclear what post-Brexit Britain will look like. One of the few things we know for sure, however, is that freedom of movement will be a thing of the past for UK nationals and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals based in the UK.

Until 29 March 2019, the Free Movement Directive will remain in force, allowing EEA citizens and their dependants to live, work and study in any country within the EEA. What happens after that depends on whether or not a Brexit deal is agreed between the UK and the EU. If there is a deal, there will be a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020. In the event of no-deal, the UK will drop out of the EU and there will be no transition period. No-deal means any EEA nationals looking to relocate to the UK (and UK nationals relocating to the EEA) after 29 March 2019 would require immigration permission under the normal immigration rules of the country to which they relocate.

All EU nationals (except Irish nationals) who are living, working or studying in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 (the end of the transition period) will be required to apply under the EU settlement scheme for:

  • Settled status (for individuals who started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have lived in the UK for a 5-year continuous period); or
  • pre-settled status (for individuals who do not have 5 years’ continuous residence).

This requirement does not apply to Irish nationals, who are automatically deemed settled in the UK and so are not required to apply for settled or pre-settled status. The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Employers should be aware that, in the event of no-deal, the EU settlement scheme would be available only for EU nationals already resident in the UK by 29 March 2019; EU nationals arriving after 29 March 2019 would not be able to qualify for settled status.

Details of the EU settlement scheme and how to apply for settled status can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families .

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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