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Brexit and Immigration: What You Need to Know
From the early days of these unprecedented events – Newland Chase has been at the forefront of preparing companies and their employees in the UK and the EU for the UK’s potential withdrawal from the European Union. Through direct client guidance, presentations to clients and industry organisations, online webinars, white papers, and weekly alerts – our immigration experts have supported our clients with the latest information and actionable advice. In this site, you’ll find the essential tools that you need to successfully navigate this rapidly-changing landscape.
On 23 June 2016, the UK held a referendum asking voters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if they wanted to remain a member of, or to leave, the EU. 51.89% of UK voters voted to leave the EU.
The UK government triggered the Article 50 process, establishing an exit date of 29 March 2019. On 25 November 2018, the EU and the UK government endorsed a draft Withdrawal Agreement and an outline Political Declaration on the future relationship. However, the agreement was rejected in votes in the UK House of Commons on 15 January 2019 and 12 March 2019.
On 21 March 2019, the Prime Minister and the EU agreed to an extension of the Article 50 period, until 22 May 2019 if the Withdrawal Agreement was approved by Parliament by 29 March 2019 (it was not approved); or until 12 April 2019, by which the UK had to present the EU with a way forward or leave with no deal.
On 17 October 2019, the UK Government and the EU agreed a modified Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. However, on 19 October 2019, parliament forced the government to request another extension of the Article 50 period.
On 22 October 2019, parliament voted to take forward the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which must be approved before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified in the UK, but voted against the government’s fast-track timetable for scrutinizing the bill, leaving the bill in limbo.
On 28 October 2019, the EU agreed a new ‘flextension’ of the Article 50 period: until 31 January 2020, with the option of the UK leaving earlier if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified in time.
On 29 October 2019, the House of Commons agreed to hold a general election on 12 December 2019.
There are still several possible outcomes:
- There could be a no-deal Brexit on 1 February 2019 if the deal has not been ratified and no further extension request is granted; or
- The UK and EU parliaments could ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 January 2020 (Brexit would then take place on the first day of the month after ratification is completed); or
- A UK government could request another extension beyond 31 January 2020 (which may be agreed by the EU); or
- A UK government could unilaterally revoke Article 50, possibly following a second referendum, effectively canceling Brexit.
In the sections below, we look at possible outcomes for EU citizens and British nationals, with and without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement.
Brexit with Withdrawal Agreement
If the Withdrawal Agreement is eventually ratified, free movement will continue until the end of the transition period (31 December 2020 unless extended).
Note that the UK has reached separate agreements with the EEA EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), as well as with Switzerland, on protecting citizens’ rights after Brexit.
EU Citizens in the UK
- All EU citizens arriving in the UK before 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to register, through the EU Settlement Scheme;
- Family members in a relationship with the EU citizen before the end of the transition period will be able to join those with settled status at any future date;
- New immigration rules, applying to EU nationals arriving after transition, should come into effect by January 2021. EEA workers will be treated the same as non-European nationals under the existing points-based system, but with some amendments to the system. The government’s proposal is analysed in detail here;
- Family members of an EU citizen arriving after 31 December 2020, will be subject to a future immigration scheme.
UK Nationals in the EU
- The rights of UK nationals resident in the EU before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020, unless extended), and of their family members, will be similarly protected, though registration schemes will vary between members states.
EU Citizens in the UK
On 6 December 2018, the government published a policy paper outlining the UK government’s proposals for protecting EU citizens’ rights in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreed and ratified Withdrawal Agreement.
In a no-deal Brexit scenario, with no transition period, the EU Settlement Scheme will still operate but the cut-off dates will be brought forward:
- Only EU citizens already in the UK by Brexit day will qualify, and they will have to apply by 31 December 2020;
- Family members in a relationship with the EU citizen before Brexit day will be able to join those with settled status until 29 March 2022 (to be confirmed).
Other differences in the case of no deal include:
- The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) would not have jurisdiction as regards EU27 citizens in the UK (under the Withdrawal Agreement it would have residual jurisdiction for eight years after the end of the transition period).
- EU citizens would have no right to an appeal to an immigration judge.
On 4 September 2019, the UK Home Office published a policy paper outlining its proposals for how it will treat EU citizens arriving in the UK after a no-deal Brexit.
According to the latest proposals, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement, temporary, transitional arrangements will apply until 31 December 2020, after which a new immigration regime will be implemented. The UK will grant EU citizens and their family members arriving by 31 December 2020 the right to live, work and study as they do now until the end of this period.
Those wishing to stay beyond 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme. Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months’ leave to remain in the UK. If they want to stay longer, they will then have to apply under the future immigration system.
UK Nationals in the EU
If the UK leaves the EU on Brexit day without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement, then UK nationals will become third-country (non-EU) nationals immediately:
- UK nationals wishing to visit the EU for up to 90 days will likely be able to do so without a visa, provided that the UK reciprocates for EU nationals (subject to the necessary legislation).
- Falling under the visa-free regime means UK nationals will need to apply for ETIAS travel authorization prior to a trip to the EU, after 1 January 2021.
- UK nationals wishing to enter an EU member state for stays of more than 90 days will require a visa.
- UK nationals wishing to enter an EU member state for work will need to apply for work authorization, like other third-country nationals. They may qualify for short-term work permit exemptions where available.
- UK nationals already resident in an EU member state by Brexit day will likely be able to stay and continue to work if they register in time, although this will depend on unilateral arrangements made by individual member states, which in turn may depend on a reciprocal offer by the UK.
- UK nationals travelling to the Schengen area (not Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Romania) will have to have at least six months left on their passports from the date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports.
- Any extra months over ten years on a passport (if it was renewed before expiry) may not count towards the six months that should be remaining for travel to Schengen countries.
EU member states are in the process of establishing national arrangements for UK nationals in the case of a no-deal Brexit, often with the proviso that a reciprocal offer by the UK is confirmed. Please see our separate article highlighting these national measures here.
With the complex, fast-changing nature of Brexit, and the potential impact on our clients – Newland Chase has formed a dedicated Brexit Team to address our client’s concerns and support them throughout this turbulent time. Newland Chase’s team of qualified consultants possess industry-leading expertise in the complexities of the laws and processes for visas and immigration both in the UK and the various EU member states.
Our professionals offer bespoke solutions for businesses of every size and every industry. Our specialists will work with you to ensure that you, your business, and your workforce receive fully tailored services designed for your particular needs.
What is the UK Settlement Scheme for EU Nationals?
The EU Settlement Scheme launched in full on 30 March 2019. From that date, EU nationals exercising the right to reside and work in the UK will need to apply for updated status under the new scheme.
We understand that it is vital to our clients to ensure the continued rights of their EU nationals, and that navigating this new system is no small undertaking. Newland Chase therefore offers a comprehensive set of services to support and minimize the impact of Brexit for both corporate and private clients alike.
We’ll work with you to tailor our services to your needs so that you can approach the new scheme with confidence and clarity. For businesses of every size, in every sector – from those looking to outsource the process from start to finish, to those who just require the occasional guiding hand – we’ll find the right settlement solution for you:
- Start-to-Finish Support – A fully-managed service to assist your EU national employees and family members navigate through the Settlement Scheme. Newland Chase will contact, assess, and provide a recommendation to each applicant, provide instruction on the process and required documentation, and assist with the application. To ensure your employees are fully compliant, Newland Chase’s immigration management technology platform will also track and report the progress for each employee, group, or the employee population as a whole and retain the documentation confirming the updated settled status for your access.
- Application Preparation – Newland Chase consultants will assess, prepare, and process the application from start to finish for an EU national and their family members.
- One-to-One Assistance – Direct access to our EU specialists and application support team at your location. Visiting your sites to hold one-to-one sessions with your employees, we will provide personalized consultation and in-person assistance with the submission of settlement applications.
- Instructional Seminars and Webinars – Whether in-person or online, our live workshops guide your employees through the process of submitting an application and the standard documentation required for both Settled and Pre-settled status, as well as for those already holding Permanent Residence. Workshops can be tailored to the requirements of your EU national employees and can be easily paired with one-to-one assistance for additional consultation. For clients who want maximum instruction but with minimal disruption, our workshops can be presented in an online webinar format, allowing your employees to join at a time and place convenient for them.
Contact your Newland Chase account manager to discuss how we can best assist your EU national employees and their families update their status and protect their rights to work and reside in the UK.
With the anticipated end of freedom of movement for UK nationals in the EU (at the end of the Withdrawal Agreement transition period, or after a no-deal Brexit), obtaining permission to live and work in an EU member state will become much more complicated.
After the transition period, or after a no-deal Brexit, immigration rules for UK nationals will vary depending on the host member state, the date of arrival in the EU, and the terms of the future relationship eventually agreed between the EU and the UK.
What Should Employers Keep in Mind?
Affected employers can protect the rights of their UK national employees to live and work in EU member states by assisting them in fulfilling the new national requirement applicable to them. In addition, employers can plan their future workforce needs in the EU.
Employers need to consider various employee scenarios, including UK nationals on local contracts in the EU, those assigned temporarily to the EU, business travellers and cross-border commuters.
What Action Do Employees and Employers Need to Take Now?
- To avoid problems in a no-deal Brexit scenario, ensure all UK employees resident in an EU member state (and EU citizens resident in the UK) and their family members have submitted registration or residence applications (where applicable) by Brexit day.
- Affected employees should begin gathering documents in support of possible future immigration applications.
- If possible, bring forward any planned movements of UK nationals to the EU.
- Be prepared for possible lengthy immigration application requirements in any post-Brexit scenario.
How Can Newland Chase Help?
- Newland Chase has developed an extensive end-to-end service offering to assist employers in supporting their UK national employees in the EU.
- We can run individual immigration status checks on all affected employees and provide required and recommended actions and deadlines for all possible scenarios.
- We can also manage all required immigration applications – including registrations and residence applications for employees and their families, work permit applications, and posted worker notifications.
- We can provide training programmes and materials for HR staff and for all affected employees.
Contact your Newland Chase account manager to discuss how we can best assist your UK national employees and their families to update their status and protect their rights to work and reside in the EU.
Keeping a keen eye on Brexit developments, and ensuring that they are equipped with the very latest breaking news on what Brexit means for migration, our immigration specialists are frequently invited to speak about Brexit at industry events and working groups. Newland Chase also hosts regular events for our clients delivering the most up to date information and guidance – this includes live interactive webinars which are available on-demand below.
Our analysts have also published a number of whitepapers and guides; please download these below.
Live Brexit Guides and White Papers
Brexit Business Traveler FAQ
24 October 2019
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement in place, how will visa and travel requirements change – UK to EU and EU to UK? Essential info for business travelers.
Live Brexit Guide: Brexit Overview – What Happens Next?
30 October 2019
If the UK leaves the EU without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement, UK nationals will immediately become third-country (non-EU) nationals.
Live Brexit Guide: No-Deal Measure for UK Nationals in the EU
9 October 2019
No-Deal Brexit Measures for UK Nationals in the EU.
Current Status for EU and UK Nationals in the Event of Either an Orderly or Disorderly Brexit
15 February 2019
With the United Kingdom’s Parliament now handing the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit withdrawal deal three significant defeats, and attempts to renegotiate with the European Union seemingly going nowhere – a “no-deal” Brexit on 29 March 2019 is now becoming an increasing possibility. As things stand now, the road forward appears to be a choice between a no-deal Brexit on 29 March or postponing Brexit beyond 29 March in hopes of eventually getting a deal.
Prepare to Brexit: 78 Days and Counting…
10 January 2019
With the vote in the UK Parliament on the controversial Brexit withdrawal deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union now slated for the week of 14 January, chances of its passage look slim, and chances of a no-deal Brexit are rapidly increasing. The withdrawal of the UK from the EU is now expected on 29 March 2019 – unless the UK’s Article 50 notice is extended. Whether there is a deal or no-deal, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU impacts all aspects of the relationship – including immigration, permanent residency, visas, and work permits.
Racing to Brexit: Six Months to Go
1 October 2018
Six Months to Go Where We Are, What We Know, and What You Should Do… Six Months from Brexit Day. With the 29 March 2019 Brexit Day just six months away, Newland Chase gives this quick snapshot of where we are, what we know, and what you should do when it comes to immigration and mobility.
Brexit Update: Next Steps for Your Business | On-Demand Webinar
9 October 2019
Whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a withdrawal agreement, this 60-minute webinar will equip your company with practical knowledge, up-to-date information, and concrete action steps on the impact of Brexit on:
- Your British employees’ residence status, for current and future residents in the EU;
- The rights of your EU nationals in the UK, both for those arriving before as well as after Brexit;
- Your British and EU business travelers, after Brexit has taken place.
UK Nationals in the EU: Brexit Strategy Planning | On-Demand Webinar
Newland Chase understands the challenges that businesses and their UK national employees living across the EU face. Whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a withdrawal agreement, this 60-minute webinar will equip companies and their employees with practical knowledge, up-to-date information, and concrete action steps on:
- The impact of Brexit on your UK national employees’ residence status;
- Steps to take now to protect your employees’ immigration status; and
- Answers to your questions in a live, interactive format.
Remaining in the UK after Brexit: Essential Settlement Guidance for EU Nationals | On-Demand Webinar
In this 60-minute webinar, you’ll gain practical knowledge and up-to-date information on:
- Brexit, the end of Freedom of Movement, and the impact on the rights of EU nationals in the UK;
- How-to instructions and guidance on using the new online EU Settlement system;
- Qualifications for Settled versus Pre-Settled status;
- Application and documentation requirements;
- How employers can best assist their EU national employees
Racing to Brexit: 6 Months to Go | On-Demand Webinar
Our UK immigration experts will cover:
- Review and perspective of the key events of the past 2 years and the events to watch for over the next 6 months;
- Steps the UK government has taken to ensure the immigration status of EU nationals in the UK;
- Steps the various EU governments are taking to ensure the immigration status of UK nationals in the EU;
- Overview of recent publication of The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) findings; and
- Steps companies need to be doing now to protect the rights and status of their EU employees in the future.
Glossary of Brexit Terms
Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon outlines the process for a member state to withdraw from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017, launching a two-year period for the UK to leave the EU.
Originally 29 March 2019. On 21 March 2019, the Prime Minister and the EU agreed an extension of the Article 50 period, until 22 May 2019 if the withdrawal agreement was approved by Parliament by 29 March 2019 (it was not approved); or until 12 April 2019, by which the UK had to present the EU with a way forward or leave with no deal. On 10 April 2019, the EU and the UK agreed a new extension, until 31 October 2019.
European Economic Area (EEA)
The EEA was formed on 1st January 1994, amalgamating the (then) 25 independent states of the European Union and the European Free Trade Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
European Union (EU)
The EU is the political and economic union of 28 countries.
A voting procedure held on 23 June 2016 in which voters were asked “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” 51.89% of voters voted to leave the EU.
EU Settlement Scheme
This scheme opened on 30 March 2019. In the event of an exit with a withdrawal agreement, EU citizens resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 will need to apply by 30 June 2021 to continue living in the UK. Their family members in a relationship by the same date, will be able to join them at any time in the future.
In the event of a no-deal exit, EU citizens resident in the UK by Brexit Day will need to apply by 31 December 2020 to continue living in the UK. Their family members in a relationship by Brexit Day will be able to join them within three years.
A successful application under the scheme will result in either “Settled” or “Pre-settled” status.
Freedom of Movement
EU citizens are permitted to live, work and study in any EU member state without requiring permission to work or study in that member state.
See Transition Period.
“No-deal” Brexit means the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in place.
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals living in the UK, who do not yet qualify for Settled Status, may be granted Pre-Settled Status. Successful applicants will be permitted to remain in the UK until they are eligible to apply for Settled Status, usually five years.
A free travel area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished internal borders and have a common visa policy, allowing travellers to move freely within the Schengen Area. The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals living in the UK may apply for settled status. This is a grant of indefinite leave to remain in the UK and retains the same access to work, study, healthcare and other benefits as the rules currently permit.
A period from Brexit day up to and including 31 December 2020, the transition (or implementation) period is intended to allow both the UK and the EU time to make final agreements on their relationship. There would be no transition period as a result of a no-deal Brexit.
The separation agreement negotiated between the UK and the EU, this covers three main areas of the UK’s departure from the EU:
• The UK’s financial settlement with the EU;
• The post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in the UK and of UK citizens in the EU;
• A so-called ‘backstop’ to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, if alternative arrangements preventing such a hard border have not been agreed between the UK and the EU before the end of the transition period.
- Article 50