Update – Free Movement and Brexit

The UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and a transitional exit period is envisaged ending on 31 December 2020. There is still a considerable amount of uncertainty concerning the rights of EU nationals to continue working in the UK post-Brexit and much will depend on whether we leave with a deal or not.

Up until 29 March 2019, EU nationals have the right to live and work in the UK. If no deal is concluded by this date, the UK ceases to be a member of the EU and the right of freedom of movement will no longer apply.

Part 2 of the draft withdrawal agreement of 19 March 2018 provides the clearest indication of citizens’ rights post-Brexit but it should be noted that this is in draft only at this stage. So far, the following has been agreed: –

  1. There will be an implementation period from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020 during which freedom of movement will continue to apply.
  2. EU citizens who have resided in the UK lawfully for 5 years by 31 December 2020 will be able to stay indefinitely under the new “EU exit settlement scheme”.
  3. Those with fewer than 5 years residency in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be entitled to “temporary status” until they acquire the necessary 5 years to obtain EU exit status. They can continue working during this period.
  4. The deadline for submitting applications for EU exit temporary and settled status will be no more than 6 months after 31 December 2020.
  5. Successful applications will be granted indefinite leave to remain.

It should be noted however that despite this currently agreed position in relation to the freedom of movement, the Government has been quick to point that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” This simply therefore gives an indication of what freedom of movement may look like post-Brexit if an agreement is reached.