Brexit is the word that has been on the front of everyone’s mind as of late and it is not surprising at all, considering the potential implications of the various possible outcomes of this process for almost everyone living in the UK. This is a short guide by our immigration lawyers briefly describing the main possible outcomes.
1. The Brexit Deal proposed by the government
The deal which was outlined in the draft of the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by the Parliamentary vote on 15 January 2019. In accordance with this proposal, after 29 March 2019, UK was to enter the so-called Transitional Period, which would run until 31 December 2020 and was meant to soften the UK’s exit from the EU and to allow to finalise the new permanent arrangement. Following the rejection, a number of alternative options are currently being considered, among them a “No Deal”, an extension or completion revocation of the Article 50 notice period to allow for further negotiations, a second referendum or a complete cancelation of the Brexit process. Everyone is currently waiting to see how things will develop.
2. “No Deal” Brexit
In the unlikely event of a “No Deal”, there will be no agreement with the EU on the way forward and, although it is almost impossible to predict how things will develop in this case, immigration controls on the EU migrants are likely to be brought in much sooner.
It is however unlikely that immigration controls similar to those applied to the non-EEA nationals would be introduced immediately. As the UK will not be able to implement them in such a short period of time and any such measures are likely to be met with a reciprocal arrangement from the EU for British nationals.
In all probability, in the event of “No Deal”, a quasi-transitional period will still have to be introduced to deal with the EU migrants already in the UK and those who will be entering during any such period.
The UK government has already introduced an EU Settlement Scheme, which will allow EU nationals, who are already lawfully resident in the UK prior to 29 March 2019, to apply for resident status. It is not clear if the scheme will be extend after 29 March 2019.
In the White Paper released on 19 December 2018, the government outlines the proposed new immigration policy, which would apply from 1 January 2021. In summary, it is proposed that the free movement will end after that date and EU nationals will be subject to the rules very similar to those that non-EU nationals are subject to. This proposal has met a lot of criticism from the UK businesses and the government has confirmed that it will aims to launch a 12-months consultation programme involving private and public sectors across the UK to “shape both the final rules and process”.
Despite the fact that the situation remains unclear, we recommend that EU nationals attempt settle their immigration status prior to 29 March 2019, if possible.