Immigration and a no-deal Brexit

Published on
4 min read

The Johnson Government’s initial statements on immigration policy created some confusion, but it is now clear that EU nationals should be free to come to the UK to live and work until the end of 2020, even if there is a no deal Brexit on 31 October.

Euro Temporary Leave to Remain

EU nationals who are not resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 October 2019 will continue to be able to enter the UK to live and work without requiring a visa for the period 1 November 2019 until 31 December 2020. However, a person who moves to the UK after a no-deal exit and wishes to remain resident beyond 31 December 2020 will need to apply under the new European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme (Euro TLR). This is a revised version of a similar temporary scheme announced by the May Government earlier this year.

It seems that the deadline for Euro TLR applications will be 31 December 2020, irrespective of the date when the person entered the UK after Brexit. Euro TLR will grant the holder permission to remain in the UK for 36 months with the ability to study and work.

At the end of this period, holders of Euro TLR who wish to remain in the UK will need to apply for further permission to remain in the UK under the new immigration system (expected to be implemented on a phased basis from January 2021). Details of the new immigration rules and any switching requirements are not expected to be published for several months. However, the Government has indicated that time spent in the UK with Euro TLR status will count towards residency requirements for future indefinite leave to remain/settlement applications.

EU settlement scheme: a reminder

EU nationals who are resident in the UK by 11pm on 31 October 2019 will be covered by the EU Settlement Scheme. This will run whether there is a deal or no-deal Brexit, meaning the right of residence and ability to access benefits and public services should be preserved. If there is a deal Brexit, eligibility would be extended to those resident at the end of any agreed transitional period (currently expected to be 31 December 2020).

The deadline for making applications under the Settlement Scheme will be 31 December 2020 (in a no-deal scenario) or 30 June 2021 (in a deal scenario).

What should employers be doing to prepare?

We think there are four areas for employers:

  • Reassurance – the Government has confirmed that it will run the Settlement Scheme for EU nationals and their family members who are resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 October 2019, even in a no-deal scenario. So irrespective of the outcome of the latest Brexit negotiations, the rights of EU nationals and their family members currently in the UK should be preserved.
  • Recruitment – employers who have identified an EU national for a role, or who have recruitment processes involving EU nationals underway, should where practicable plan to ensure that EU nationals are appointed and resident in the UK by 31 October 2019. EU workers will continue to be free to take up employment in the UK without restriction until 31 December 2020, but they will not be covered by the Settlement Scheme. Instead they will be covered by the less favourable Euro TLR Scheme.
  • Workforce planning – looking further ahead it is sensible for organisations to identify the areas where they tend to recruit a significant number of EU nationals (particularly lower skilled roles), the potential risks associated with additional recruitment barriers and costs, and actions that can be taken to mitigate these risks.
  • Sponsor licence compliance – based on last year’s Immigration White Paper, it seems likely that the future immigration system (including in respect of recruiting EU nationals) will involve an extension in some form of the current points based system that applies to non-EU nationals. While the details of the new system are not yet clear, the consequences for existing sponsors of having their licence revoked as a result of compliance failures may be prove to be more serious in the post-Brexit world. So ensuring a high level of compliance may be more important than ever.

The Mills & Reeve immigration team can help in advising on Brexit-related immigration issues, providing support for EU staff, and assisting with sponsor licence issues. Please get in touch with Alex Russell if your organisation requires any advice in this area.

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