In the event that there is no deal governing the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, the Government has published immigration guidance to apply. This sets out that:
- EEA citizens (who are citizens of EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK after 29 March who intend to stay longer than three months must apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain to stay for three years. They will be subject to identity, criminal and security checks before being granted permission;
- Non-EEA family members who wish to accompany an EEA citizens or Swiss nationals under these arrangements will need to apply in advance for a family permit;
- The initial three months’ leave to enter for EEA citizens and Swiss nationals will be free of charge but applications for European Temporary Leave to Remain will need to be paid for. Fees will be set out at a later date.
- To stay in the UK for longer than three years, EEA and Swiss nationals will need to make a further application under the UK's new skills-based future immigration system which comes into force after 1 January 2021.
This means that for EEA nationals arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019, in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, employers need to be prepared for there to be no special treatment for EEA nationals. This means that EEA nationals will have to adhere to the same immigration rules as non-EEA nationals and employers will need to become licensed Sponsors in order to recruit EEA nationals after 29 March 2019.
This announcement does not affect EEA and Swiss nationals already in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. Those individuals will be eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme irrespective of whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal. However, they must do so by 31 December 2020 in the event of a no deal.
Irish citizens will not need to apply for Leave to Remain and will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK under the Common Travel Area.