The British government has outlined how it intends to treat EU citizens, other EEA nationals and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
According to an announcement and a policy paper published on 28 January the following arrangements will be put in place:
If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal free movement will end straight away.
The UK will operate a transition period for EEA nationals arriving in the UK between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020.
During the transition period EEA nationals will be able to enter the UK on production of a valid EEA passport or identity card. If they have a biometric passport they will be able to use e-gates as they do now. On arrival they will automatically be granted leave to enter for three months with permission to work and study.
EEA nationals who want to stay for longer than three months will need to apply for a new status called European Temporary Leave to Remain. There will be a fee for this. Subject to criminality/security checks they will be granted leave to remain for 36 months with permission to work and study. This status cannot be extended. EEA nationals who want to stay beyond 36 months will need to apply under whatever immigration system will be introduced from 1 January 2021. Some of these people may not qualify under the future immigration system, in which case they will need to leave the UK at the end of the 36 months.
EEA nationals arriving on or after 30 March 2019 will be able to bring non-EEA nationals who are their 'close family members', meaning a spouse or partner and dependent children under 18. Those family members will need to apply in advance for a 'family permit'.
During the transition period employers carrying out right to work checks will not have to distinguish between EEA nationals who arrived on or before 29 March 2019 and those who arrived afterwards. A valid EEA passport or identity card will be enough to satisfy a right to work check.
These proposed arrangements will not apply to Irish citizens. They will continue to be free to live and work in the UK without restriction.
The arrangements will also not apply to EEA nationals who arrive in the UK by 29 March 2019. They will be eligible to apply for permission to stay under the EU Settlement Scheme. Any EEA national planning to move to the UK in the next few months would be wise to arrive on or before 29 March 2019 if possible so they can be sure of qualifying for the EU Settlement Scheme. They should keep their travel ticket as evidence of when they arrived.
Hanging over this year’s Tour de France, at least for this British cycling fan, was the realisation that this is probably the last Tour pre-Brexit, and so there is an additional level of uncertainty about what the 2019 post-Brexit edition will look like.