The Legal Status Of EU Citizens Arriving After March 2019 With A No-Deal Brexit

With March 2019 just around the corner and the possibility of a no-Brexit deal looming, the fate for EU citizens arriving in the UK after Brexit is still unknown.

Under the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement, free movement will continue from the Brexit date 29th of March 2019 until then end of the transition period on the 31st of December 2020. Thus, meaning that EU citizens will be able to move to the UK until December of 2020, and vice versa. A no-Brexit deal eliminates this possibility.

The right to free movement is one of the fundamental freedoms the EU is based on. It derives from the treaties of the EU and has been incorporated into UK law:

7: Persons exercising Community rights and nationals of member States.

(1) A person shall not under the principal Act require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom in any case in which he is entitled to do so by virtue of an enforceable right or of any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

[Section 7 of the Immigration Act 1988]

In the scenario of a no deal, this transition period will not exist. EU citizens living here before the 29th of March 2019 should not be affected and they should be able to apply for residency. However, free movement will end from the 30th of March 2019.

New arrivals wanting to stay longer than 3 months will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain. Applicants will have to pass checks such as identity, criminality and security checks. Citizens granted with this status will be able to remain in the UK for 36 months from the date of their application. It will be a temporary status without the guarantee of extension. However, it is not guaranteed it will be granted in the first place and there is a possibility of refusal.

New arrivals wanting to stay less than 3 months for tourism purposes, will also be subject to requirements as third country nationals. Unless the UK and EU enter into negotiations to determine the status of EEA citizens, they will require a leave to enter the UK.

The effects of a no-Brexit deal will have the same effect on British citizens. The status of British citizens in other EU countries will be dependent on the legislation of that particular country. Should no legislation be in place, British citizens travelling to European countries will be treat as third country nationals, with no freedom of movement.

To conclude, the status of EU citizens looking to settle in the UK remains uncertain, particularly those with long-term plans. Everything remains to be seen. One aspect that is certain is that the uncertainty of the outcome is causing people to panic. Businesses have started to move their headquarters, airline companies could cancel flights, and the import and export of products will be difficult. These are only a few of the potential effects.