Virginia, US

Dec 06 2018

Policy Paper Details EU Nationals’ Position in the United Kingdom in No-Deal Brexit

European Union, United Kingdom

The situation

A recent UK Home Office policy paper outlines the arrangements for EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom in case of a no-deal Brexit.

A closer look

The policy paper confirms that EU nationals and their family members can continue to move to the United Kingdom until March 29, 2019 without any new constraints. Further details discussed in the paper include the below:

  • EU Settlement Scheme. EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom by March 29, 2019 would be able to continue to register under the EU Settlement Scheme in case of a no-deal Brexit, until December 31, 2020. Until this date, EU nationals could continue to use their passport or national identity card as proof of their right to reside in the United Kingdom, as they currently do. The basis for qualifying for status under the scheme would remain the same as proposed in a ‘deal’ scenario and would focus on residence in the United Kingdom. Eligible EU nationals could secure their status in UK law by registering under this scheme.
  • Indefinite leave to remain. Registration under the EU Settlement Scheme would allow eligible EU nationals and their family members to apply for indefinite leave to remain – the UK permanent residence permit type – after five years of continuous and lawful residence.
  • Deadline for current family members. EU nationals registered under the EU Settlement Scheme could apply for their close family members – such as children, spouses and partners, parents and grandparents – to join them in the United Kingdom until March 29, 2022. To qualify, the family relationship should exist by March 29, 2019 (with the exception of newborn children) and should continue to exist at the time the application is filed. After March 29, 2022, such family members would be able to join EU citizens by applying through the applicable UK Immigration Rules.
  • Deadline for new family members. For relationships formed after March 29, 2019, EU nationals registered under the EU Settlement Scheme would be able to apply for these family members to join them in the United Kingdom until December 31, 2020. After this date, the applicable UK Immigration Rules w apply.
  • Irish nationals. Irish nationals would not need to register under the EU Settlement Scheme, as they are covered by separate UK-Ireland treaties.  


Impact in the United Kingdom

The policy paper offers more clarity for EU nationals and their family members currently residing or seeking to reside in the United Kingdom, if the United Kingdom exits the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement in place.

EU nationals arriving in the United Kingdom after March 29, 2019 should be aware that a no-deal Brexit could mean they would need to obtain visas in the same way as other third country nationals.

Impact in the European Union

The position set out in this policy paper corresponds to the current conditions in the other EU countries, namely that in case of a no-deal Brexit there will be no transition period. The European Union has committed to extending protections to UK nationals currently residing in the European Union that correspond to the protections that EU nationals will receive in the United Kingdom. Therefore, while the policy paper only has effect in the United Kingdom, policy in the EU may be impacted because of principles of reciprocity.  

How this policy paper fits in to Brexit negotiations

This policy paper is a non-binding indication of the government’s intentions to guide the UK Parliament in making rules if a Withdrawal Agreement is not reached.

While both the United Kingdom and the European Union remain committed to the Withdrawal Agreement, it is not yet certain whether the agreement will be accepted by UK Parliament.

Looking ahead

The Home Office calls on EU countries to guarantee similar protections for UK nationals residing in the European Union. The policy paper highlights that the new immigration system must be fully operational by March 29, 2019 in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. Fragomen will continue to report on relevant developments.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to londoninfo@fragomen.com.