11/09/2019

After turbulence on the immigration status of EU nationals over the past couple of weeks, the government has confirmed that those entering the UK after a ‘no deal’ BREXIT will be able to live and work in the UK as they currently can - for a limited time.

For EU nationals residing in the UK now, the position has remained relatively straightforward. Applications can be made to the government’s Settled Status Scheme to begin the path to settlement in the UK. Reports suggest over a million such individuals have already successfully applied for settled or pre-settled status. 

However, the status of those who arrive after a potential no deal BREXIT became uncertain after a statement from the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in the Summer, which appeared to suggest that freedom of movement would end immediately on 1 November 2019 in the event of the UK leaving with a no deal on 31 October.

This announcement was met with criticism, consternation and complaint from various quarters, not least because it seemed to cut across previous assurances from the May government about the position of EU nationals in the event of a ‘no deal’.

Responding to these concerns, last week the government clarified the position and gave an assurance that EU free movement will not end abruptly from 31 October 2019.

The position for EU nationals arriving post-BREXIT

So, the latest scheme allows EU nationals who arrive after 31 October 2019 to apply for permission to remain in the UK temporarily (‘Temporary Leave to Remain’). Permission will be granted for 36 months to successful applicants and there will be an opportunity to apply for further leave via the new points based system. The scheme is expected to open when the UK leaves the EU without a deal and the proposed deadline is 31 December 2020. 

Of course if the UK does not leave the EU on 31 October 2019, some of these deadlines and provisions may change again.

Actions to take

For the moment, employers can continue employing EU nationals in the same way as before up until December 2020, subject to carrying out right to work checks on all employees or workers. In the future, however, employers will need to ensure that their EU employees have taken steps to remain in the UK in accordance with the Scheme.

For those EU nationals who are currently in the UK, employers need to make sure all EU employees have made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme. Details of the scheme can be found on the government’s EU Settlement Scheme application page. All applications must be made by 31 December 2020 and it is free to apply: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families.

If your organisation is needing advice or support around legal compliance, please speak to Bevan Brittan’s Business Immigration Law specialists who are available on immigration.law@bevanbrittan.com.

To assist organisations, Bevan Brittan has brought together its extensive services advising on immigration and BREXIT-related issues to create a new hub through which clients can access support and advice.