What does this mean for people moving to and from the UK?
Nothing for now. We are in a transition period until at least 31 December 2020.
During the transition period EU law continues to apply to the UK, which means that EU citizens can live and work in the UK in exactly the same way as before. The same applies to other European Economic Area nationals (nationals of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals.
British citizens also keep their free movement rights in EEA states and Switzerland during the transition period.
The British government insists that the transition period will not be extended. If there is to be one this has to be agreed before 1 July 2020.
What will happen to EU citizens already living in the UK?
EU citizens who move to the UK before the end of the transition period will be able to stay as long as they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.
For more information see our guide to what EU citizens living in the UK need to know.
Irish citizens don’t have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They will still be free to live and work in the UK after the transition period. The same goes for British citizens in Ireland.
What will happen to British citizens already living in the EU?
British citizens who start exercising a right of residence in another EU member state before the end of transition period will be able to stay but they need to register with the authorities. The process varies from country to country. For more information see the British government’s website here.
What will the UK's Immigration System look like after the transition period?
The British government says that after the transition period the same rules for work visas will apply to EU citizens as to everyone else. We don’t yet know what those rules will be.
The British government’s Migration Advisory Committee published a report on 28 January 2020 which warned against replacing the current system of sponsored visas for highly-skilled workers (Tier 2) with an Australian-style points-based system. The MAC recommended keeping the Tier 2 model but with significant changes, including lowering the skills threshold to include medium-skilled jobs and lowering the main salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600.
If the British government follows these recommendations it will be far easier for employers to sponsor people for work visas, but it will be expensive. Fees for Tier 2 visas are already high and there are no plans to lower them. If anything they will increase. Employers who rely on EU citizens to fill medium- and high-skilled roles will be spending a lot of money on visas.
There will have to be new immigration routes for low-skilled workers, at least in the short term. We don’t yet know what those will be.
What do I need to do?
If you are an EU citizen living in the UK
You need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you are an EU citizen thinking of moving to the UK
You should try to get to the UK by 31 December 2020, unless the transition period is extended.
If you are a British citizen living in the EU
You need to register with the authorities in the country where you live. Look at the British government’s website if you don’t know where to start.
If you are British citizen thinking of moving to the EU
You should try to make your move by 31 December 2020, unless the transition period is extended.
If you are an employer in the UK
- Give your staff members who are EU citizens information about their rights, such as our guide and encourage all of them to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
- If you are thinking of recruiting or transferring EU citizens to the UK in the next year or so try to get them to the UK by 31 December 2020 so they qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme
- If you are thinking of transferring British citizens to the EU try to do this by 31 December 2020
- Be prepared to spend a lot of money on visa fees after 31 December 2020
- Follow the news closely and if you have any questions contact Kingsley Napley’s immigration team.