Julia Jackson’s article is published in International Client – January 2019
14 / 01 / 2019
The article was originally published by International Client, January 2019.
As we move into 2019, the question of freedom of movement (FoM) rights for EU nationals in the UK remains the hottest of political hot potatoes. At the time of writing, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU hangs in the balance. Under the terms of that deal, FoM rights for EU nationals moving to and living in the UK will essentially remain the same until the end of the proposed transition period on 31 December 2020.
A separate agreement has also been reached between the UK and the three additional EEA states, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, on essentially the same terms.
EU/EEA nationals resident in the UK at the end of 2020 and wishing to remain resident will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, established by the UK government, by 30 June 2021. The scheme is not yet fully open, but will require applicants resident in the UK to fill in a short on-line application, with basic factual information including name, address, passport details and National Insurance number, as well as declaring any criminal convictions. Applicants will need to provide proof of identity by uploading a ‘selfie’ and either scanning their passport biometric chip using a compatible mobile phone or submitting the original passport to the Home Office.
Those applicants who have been resident in the UK for a continuous period of at least five years at the date of the application will be granted ’Settled Status’, which will give them an indefinite right to live and work in the UK. Those who have been resident for a period of less than five years at the time of the application will be granted ‘Pre-Settled Status’, which will be valid for a period of five years. A further application will then be required during this period, once the threshold of five years’ continuous residence has been reached. Pre-Settled Status cannot be extended if the requirement for five years’ continuous residence is not met.
Irish nationals are not required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, then the terms of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement will not apply. However, the UK government has confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will remain in place in the event of no-deal, although the final date for applications will be brought forward by six months to the end of December 2020.
After Brexit and the transition period (assuming we have a deal with the EU on leaving), EU/EEA nationals will be required to comply with UK immigration rules in force at the time. Whilst further details are awaited on any changes to the current immigration rules, it is clear that EU/EEA nationals will not be given preferential status due to nationality. Although visas will not be needed for short visits, for example for holidays or business, they will be treated in the same way as nationals from other countries and be required to obtain visas for longer stays.