Following the rejection of the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement on 15 January 2019, we look at how this may affect UK immigration law:
As things stand, the UK is due to leave the EU with or without a deal at 11pm on 29 March 2019. The Prime Minister now has until Monday 21 January to return to the Parliament with an alternative plan.
The public test phase of the EU Settlement Scheme (“the scheme”) will open from 21 January 2019, allowing all EU citizens with valid passports and their non-EU family members who hold a biometric residence card to apply for ‘settled status’ and ‘pre-settled status’.
A deal before 29 March 2019
The Brexit process will continue as planned if the UK and the EU come to an agreement before 29 March 2019, subject to any changes to the status of EU nationals within that deal. Please see here and here for our guide on applying under the scheme.
Delay in Brexit/Extension of Article 50
There will be no change for EU nationals, and freedom of movement will continue to apply to EU nationals in the UK, until specific changes are introduced. Until then, the scheme will remain in place and EU nationals will be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status, and it remains to be seen whether the transitional period will be extended beyond 31 December 2020. This scenario applies in the event the Government seeks a major renegotiation with the EU or in the event of a general election or a second referendum.
Although a No Deal scenario is unlikely, the UK government has guaranteed the status of those EU citizens who are living in the UK on 29 March 2019. In this scenario, EU nationals (and their dependents) will have until 31 December 2020 to apply under the scheme. Given there will be no transitional period in the event of a No Deal, this guarantee does not apply to EU citizens arriving after 29 March 2019, effectively producing a cliff edge for EU nationals who have not arrived in the UK by 29 March.
Post-Brexit immigration system
The Government’s White Paper on a post-Brexit single immigration system is currently being debated and considered in Parliament (see here). The new system is due to come into effect after the transitional period, i.e. from 1 January 2021. Until then, current immigration rules apply to all non-EEA nationals. The Government will need to make amendments to this White Paper in the event of a no-deal.
Sacha and her team are monitoring this evolving situation and will continue to update our clients.