With continued uncertainty over when and how the UK will leave the EU it is difficult to plan how to deal with the consequences. While this may seem to be a constantly moving picture, what has been made clear is that the free movement that we have become used to will be a thing of the past for UK and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the UK.
Currently the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October 2019. Up until the UK leaves the EU, the Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), which allows EEA citizens and their dependants to live, work and study in any country within the EEA, will remain in force. What happens after that depends on whether or not a Brexit deal is agreed. If there is a deal, there will be a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020. During this time, individuals will be able to continue to exercise their free movement rights and the UK will remain party to existing EU trade deals. The transition period therefore gives employers in the UK and the EU27 (the other 27 EU member states) more time to prepare for Brexit.
In a no-deal scenario, there would be no transition period, so the position of any EEA nationals looking to relocate to the UK, and UK nationals relocating to the EEA, after Brexit would depend on the immigration rules of the country to which they relocate.
Under the withdrawal agreement reached between the UK and the EU, all EU nationals (except Irish nationals) who are exercising a Treaty right 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 or pre-settled status. This includes those who already hold a registration certificate or permanent residence card. Dependants who are non-EU nationals must also apply for settled or pre-settled status in line with their EU family member.
Irish nationals will not be impacted by the agreed EU settlement scheme, as the relationship between Ireland and the UK is regulated by the Ireland Act 1949, which predates both parties’ membership of the EU. Irish nationals are automatically deemed settled in the UK, so will not be required to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
Individuals who have lived in the UK for five years or more will be granted settled status and those who have lived in the UK for less than five years will be granted pre-settled status, which can be converted to settled status when they have been resident for five years. Settled status allows an individual to live and work in the UK indefinitely and will be lost only where an individual is absent from the UK for five years.
If you are an EEA National you will receive further communication with more detail regarding the settlement scheme. If you do not receive this, please contact Laura.Burns@wilsonjames.co.uk