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Impact on Brexit for EEA nationals

Last updated: 20 May 2020 – information on the UK leaving the EU will be added as announced, bookmark this page and check back for regular updates from our team of Immigration Experts on how this affects you, your family and your business.

20 May 2020

The UK has left the EU and the current transitional period will end on 31 December 2020. After this, EU/EEA nationals will be subject to the same immigration restrictions as other non-EU/EEA nationals are now.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020 that is currently being considered by Parliament ends free movement and will pave the way for the introduction of a new immigration system from January 2021.

Worried about how immigration law changes as a result of Brexit will affect your business? We can advise you on the future immigration landscape as it changes.

31 January 2020

The UK leaves the European Union at 11pm tonight.

During the agreed transition period until 31 December 2020, the rights of EEA nationals and their families to enter, live, work and study in the UK will remain the same as now.

However from 1 January 2021 all EEA nationals and their family members must have applied for Settled or Pre-settled Status to remain in the UK lawfully and in particular to be able to work, study and access services like healthcare from the NHS.

For further information you can talk to the team by telephone on 0191 232 9547  (ext. 1306) or by email to Immigration.Enquiries@davidgray.co.uk. 

10 January 2020

 The Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill has passed through the final stage in the House of Commons and so is a step closer to becoming law.

The bill will now need to be passed to the House of Lords for debate and approval. This will take place next week. If the bill is approved by the House of Lords it will then become law.

It will then be placed before the European Parliament where it is very likely to be given the green light, given that it implements the deal made between the UK and EU on the terms under which the UK leaves the EU.


It is therefore now highly likely that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 with a deal.

If so, this will mean EU/EEA citizens will have until 30 June 2021 to make an application for either Settled or Pre-Settled Status to remain living in the UK.

Please see our Blog which explains what will change on 31 January 2020 and what EU / EEA nationals and their family members need to do.

27 August 2019

There have been some recent conflicting reports in the media recently about the status of EU nationals and their families after 31 October 2019.  The Government has issued the following press release to seek to clarify the position.

However we are aware that the situation remains confusing and that the ongoing uncertainty is causing many to be understandably worried about their rights post-Brexit.

As it stands at the moment:

  • Free movement will end on 31 October – this means that any EU national or their family will not be able to come to the UK to work, establish a business or study as they can now.
  • EU nationals and their family members in the UK by 31 October can apply for Settled or pre-Settled status up to 31 December 2020 (or potentially longer if the UK agrees this with the EU). Those who already have this do not need to do anything further.

Regrettably the longer-term situation does remain unclear because it is not yet known what the longer terms plans are for the post-Brexit immigration system.

However our advice is that EU nationals and their family members who wish to come to the UK and are not already in the UK ensure that they are in the UK before by 31 October and that those here already apply as soon as possible for Settled or Pre-Settled status to protect their rights post-Brexit

24 July 2019

The Government announced over 900,000 have applied to the settled status scheme, two thirds of EU citizens who applied received settled status. If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your non-EU family members can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme which is free of charge today, you only need to complete three key steps:

  1. prove your identity
  2. show that you live in the UK
  3. declare any criminal convictions.

Start your application

16 April 2019

The Government has confirmed there will now be a delay on Brexit until 31 October 2019.  In addition they announced £9m funding which is available to help vulnerable EU citizens to apply for settled status.  Read more

1 April 2019

The EU Settlement Scheme is now fully open; while the future with regards to leaving the EU is still uncertain the scheme is available so the 3.5 million EU citizens who live in the UK can apply and ensure their rights are protected.  Applications are open until 30 June 2021 and are free.  Find out more and apply here.

26 February 2019

The UK Government is still seeking to negotiate a revised deal with the EU for the UK’s exit on 29 March 2019.  The next Parliamentary vote on the deal that is negotiated is set for 12 March 2019. The Government has issued guidance for EU nationals on their status and rights in the event that that the UK leaves the EU with no deal on 29 March 2019.

EU nationals and their family members already resident in the UK on 29 March 2019

They will be able to continue living, working and studying here as they do now. They will have until 31 December 2020 to apply for pre-settled or settled status.

EU nationals arriving in the UK from 30 March 2019

They will be admitted for 3 months under the Immigration Rules, not the EU Treaty as free movement will have ended. They can show their Passport or National ID Card to enter. They can work and study here during this period.

To stay longer than 3 months, they must apply for leave to remain under the Immigration Rules, the cost of which is yet to be confirmed. If granted, they will be given leave to remain for 36 months and will be able to continue to work and study.

After 36 months they will need to apply for leave to remain under the future Immigration Rules.

Family members of EU nationals who are third country nationals arriving in the UK from 30 March 2019

They will need to apply for a Family Permit ahead of travelling to the UK.

Read the Government’s full guidance

28 January 2019

In the event of a no deal exit from the EU, the government has today outlined the arrangements for EU citizens:

  • EU citizens will be able to enter the UK to visit, work or study after 29 March 2019
  • For stays longer than 3 months, European Temporary Leave to Remain will be required

Read the full news story

22 January 2019

The Government have today announced that the next stage of a pilot scheme for EU citizens and their families to apply for a post-Brexit immigration status in the UK is open.  Read our blog for a full round up.

The government have pledged that the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK will remain the same until 30 June 2021. The situation is set to change after Brexit however, when EU citizens will need to show that they hold valid immigration leave.

1 November 2018

The Government are extending their pilot for the new settled status scheme from 1 November 2018; this stage will run until 21 December 2018 (eligibility criteria applies) with full access for all by 30 March 2019.

For a full list of eligibility, evidence, fees and process please visit the Home Office website

You will need access to an Android device in order to use the system.

31 October 2018

A misleading conversation was heard in The House of Commons Select Committee yesterday (30 October) regarding the requirement of employers to check EU nationals right to work after 29 March 2019.  To clarify –

An employer will only need to check that an EU national has an EU passport or ID card, exactly as per the current criteria


28 August 2018

The Home Office has issued guidance which advises their caseworkers on how to consider applications under the EU Settlement Scheme for a private pilot which is running in the North West of England for University and NHS staff.  The 59 page document covers the basics including the process and costs through to advice on making an application and family members.

12 July 2018

The government has published  a White Paper explaining what the relationship between the UK and the EU may look like in the future. It is an extensive document circa. 100 pages but does not include information about the free movement of people this is to follow in September as a separate White Paper.

21 June 2018

As promised, The Home Office today released details of the settlement scheme EU citizens will need to adhere to in order to remain in the UK post Brexit.  To gain new UK immigration status they will need to:

  1. Prove their identity
  2. Show that they live in the UK
  3. Declare that they have no serious criminal convictions

The application fee will be £65 for an adult and £32.50 for those aged under 16.  Comprehensive details can be found on gov.uk

Further details of the scheme are to follow, if you need assistance please contact one of our specialist immigration solicitors.

19 June 2018

On Thursday 21 June The UK government will release details of the scheme by which EU citizens will adhere to if they wish to remain in the country post Brexit.  While currently at consultation stage the paper is likely to outline the evidence EU citizens will need to provide to the Home Office to prove their eligibility to stay.  It has previously been promised the process will be ‘streamlined and light touch’ however, many still have concerns.

For a full round up visit The Guardian: UK to unveil details of plans for EU citizens who wish to remain

18 May 2018

A letter detailing the application process for settled status for EU nationals has been issued today from the Home Secretary to Guy Verhofstadt MEP.  Among other things the letter covers, vulnerable citizens, families and fees.  Interestingly the Home Secretary declares “Our default position will be to say ‘yes’ to applications.”

23 March 2018

The UK and the EU have now reached an agreement on what happens during the period immediately after Brexit (the implementation period). This will give citizens and businesses on both sides time to adjust before a new relationship with the EU is agreed.

EU citizens currently in the UK – EU citizens living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 will be able to continue to live and work in the UK. Rights to healthcare, work arrangements and access to benefits will continue. Existing close family members will be able to join family in the UK the same way that they can now. Gov.uk has full guidance with case studies and a process flow

Settlement scheme – If an EU citizen or family member are already living in the UK:

  • A user-friendly scheme to enable settled status to be secured will open later this year (2018)
  • Applicants will have until 30 June 2021 to make an application
  • Information on the scheme and how to apply will become available in coming months
  • There is no need to take action now

Implementation period – The agreement reached between the UK and the EU this week extends the citizens’ rights protections to include EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK during the implementation period (from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). This ensures that those planning to come to the UK after March 2019 know what the arrangements will be. During this time, new arrivals will need to register through a new Home Office registration scheme after three months in the UK.

28 February 2018

The Home Office has issued updated guidance on their What EU citizens living in the UK need to know page including information on Indefinite Leave to Remain.  There is still no need foe EU Citizens living in the UK to take action.

21 February 2018

You can watch or read the full transcript from the European Scrutiny Committee who met on 21st February, it is a verbatim script and quite lengthy, it covers a multitude of topics including protection of EU Citizens, settled status and Irish nationals.

19 December 2017

Further details of the agreement reached were announced:  the agreement ensures the rights EU citizens and their families currently have remains broadly the same with access to healthcare, benefits and pensions protected.  In addition, your existing close family members living outside the UK retain the right to join you in future. These rights will be included in UK law ensuring you can continue as you do now.  The Home Office are continuing with building a digital system through which you will apply for settled status and the cost will be no more that the fee a British person pays for a passport, if you have valid permanent residence documentation it will be free.

8 December 2017

An agreement was made on citizen’s rights between the UK and EU Commission, EU citizens living lawfully in the UK and UK nationals living lawfully in the EU by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.  Read the full content of the agreement and information regarding applying for settled status here

EU citizens living in the UK do not need to take any action at this stage.

29 November 2017

Further information about the registration process for EU nationals has been announced.  With the process expected to start in Summer 2018 and take 2 years, the Home Office has recruited additional staff to cope with the registrations.  However, there are concerns about whether it is achievable to register up to 3 million EU nationals, find out more.

7 November 2017

The government released a paper setting out a proposed process for EU Citizens to follow to obtain settled status following the UK’s exit from the European Union.  The government assures users the system will be ‘streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly, with EU citizens consulted on its design.’  It also suggests EU Citizens will have up to 2 years following the UK’s exit to apply for settled status.  Negotiations continue on 9 and 10 November 2017.

19 October 2017

The Prime Minister travels to Brussles today to continue Brexit negotiations, she has sent an open letter to EU citizens in the UK stating her key objective is to ‘safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.’

17 October 2017

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd said “Home Office’s default position will be to accept applications from 3 million EU citizens living in Britain.”  She suggested the UK would begin registering EU nationals for ‘settled status’ by end of 2018.

30 September 2017

The fourth round of negotiations concluded this week with discussions as per the proposals set out in June 2017.  Progress was made with the hope ‘EU citizens can continue to live their lives broadly as they do now.’  An update from the Home Office can be found here.

In the meantime, there is no need for EU citizens to take action, the next round of negotiations will take place w/c 9/10/2017.

13 September 2017

The Home Office have released an article declaring ‘EU citizens living here are vital and we want them to stay‘ in a move to reassure EU citizens during the ongoing negotiations around the UK leaving the EU.  While the article is positive and progress is being made, there are still no timescales or processes confirmed.  Our advice remains the same – to check back regularly.

6 September 2017

Progress has been made on decisions regarding the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU after the latest round of negotiations:

Healthcare – the rights to reciprocal healthcare have been protected, including European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), for EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU who are present on the day of exit

Workers – Both sides agreed the rights of cross border workers should be protected

Economic rights – the UK confirmed the right of EU citizens to set up and manage a business in the UK; the same applies to British citizens in their Member State of residence.

These are agreements in principle and will require further discussion with a lot still to be decided.  In particular posted workers (raised in the July round) and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications need to be discussed as well as the process that EU nationals living in the UK will need to follow to obtain evidence of their right of residence post March 2019.

16 August 2017

The government has set up an alert service to advise information on the status of EU nationals in the UK, sign up for email updates about developments on:

  • the status of EU nationals in the UK after we leave the EU
  • the next steps for EU nationals in the UK

The latest guidance from The Home Office regarding the status of EU nationals in the UK can be found here

26 June 2017

The Government has published its policy paper on the position of EU nationals living in the EU and UK nationals living in the EU.

The paper contains more information about what rights EU nationals and their families will have upon Brexit. Those here with 5 years’ “continuous residence” will be able to apply for settled status under UK law.  Those here less than 5 years will be given temporary stay until they get to 5 years and can then apply for settled status.

A separate legal scheme in UK law will be created to consider applications and there is promise of new administrative procedures to make it “as smooth and simple as possible”.

There remain however a lot of unanswered questions and a lack of detail, not least when the cut off date is. The policy paper calls it “a specified date” and says it won’t be before 29 March 2017 but that it is subject to the negotiations.

There is also no date for the start of the new “smooth and simple” procedure. The policy paper refers to mid-2018. Whilst the paper also says that there is no need to apply for settled status before Brexit and that there will be “adequate time” to apply after the exit with no “cliff edge”, this may well not sufficiently reassure the many EU and EEA nationals and their families in the UK now that their rights and ability to continue to live and work in the UK will be protected come March 2019.

Our advice remains to seek specialist advice if you are unsure about your rights and those of your workers to remain living and working in the UK post-Brexit.  To read the full Policy Paper – The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU

23 June 2017

Under the Prime Minister’s proposals over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK would get the right to stay after Brexit, while the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described UK plans to ensure the rights of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit as “a good start.” Latest Brexit opinion from the BBC

However, the initial reaction of Jean-Claude Juncker, Head of the European Commission is that what the UK are proposing is not enough.

The proposal appears similar to the previous proposal for UK nationals living in the EEA put forward by other EU member states.

Further details will be announced on Monday 26 June 2017.

Earlier in the week the UK government appear to be proposing a ‘stock take’ of EEA nationals in the UK.

Whatever the new process is to be, it will likely require a revision of the current turgid process for applying for EEA Registration and Residence Cards and Permanent Residence and potentially a change to the qualifying criteria for residence contained in the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016.

Theresa May to present Brexit plans to EU leaders

13 June 2017

Give the continued uncertainty, our advice remains that businesses should take steps to retain their skilled workforce and EEA nationals and their family members living in the UK should seek residence documentation to confirm their right to live and work in the UK.

The media suggest British firms are currently unprepared for Brexit

and the number of EU nurse applicants has declined

11 April 2017

Latest Home Office information for EU nationals living in the UK

29 March 2017

The first stage in the formal proceedings for Britain to leave the EU starts today.  The Prime Minister, Theresa May, submitted a letter to the EU Commission which triggers Article 50 and signals the start of the negotiation process.  The process is likely to take around two years.  Read the full letter.

The status of EEA nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EEA remains the same pending the negotiations. There has been much discussion around when the “cut off” date will be for exercising rights of free movement under the EU Treaty but for now nothing further is known. We will continue to update this page and our advice as any changes are announced.

In the meantime our advice remains that EEA nationals and their family members living in the UK should seek residence documentation to confirm their right to live and work in the UK.

20 March 2017

The Prime Minister will officially notify the EU on 29 March 2017 that the UK is leaving, triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

Downing Street have said that the EU are expected to agree to the terms and send an initial response within 48 hours.

The process of formal negotiations will then commence to agree the arrangements for the UK to withdraw from the EU.

The Treaty on European Union provides that the withdrawal process will end automatically two years after Article 50 is triggered, unless agreement is reached sooner or an extension agreed.  According to BBC News,  EU leaders have said that they want to conclude the negotiations in 18 months so that the terms of the UK’s withdrawal can be ratified by the UK and European Parliaments, as well as the required majority of EU member states.

Provided that the negotiations are concluded within the two year period, the UK looks on course to leave by spring 2019.

The rights of EU and EEA nationals and their family members in the UK, as well as those of British nationals living in other EEA countries, will form part of the negotiations.

For now their rights remain the same. Under EU law EEA nationals are entitled to reside in the UK providing they are exercising Treaty rights and to have their family members here with them.

Whilst there is no current requirement in EU law for EEA nationals or their family members to obtain Registration Certificates or Residence Cards, it is our advice that they now consider doing so to have evidence of their rights of residence and seek advice if required to ensure that their rights are protected.

UK business providers should also consider checking which of their workers is currently reliant on exercising Treaty rights.  Our advice is to encourage employees to obtain proof of their right to remain as soon as possible. In addition, businesses can put systems in place with a view to possible increased immigration checks for workers being introduced once the UK leaves the EU.

For further advice on European Economic Area (EEA) rights visit our specialist page

13 March 2017

The House of Commons has passed the Brexit Bill, abandoning the Lords amendments.

The latest update suggests Article 50 will be triggered by end of March 2017.

22 February 2017

With the House of Lords debating the Brexit bill this week (22 Feb 2017), it remains keen speculation that the Lords may seek to force through an amendment that the Government guarantee the rights of EEA nationals living in the UK now ahead of the negotiations commencing. This amendment had been proposed in the House of Commons but was rejected.

In the meantime the future rights of EEA nationals and their families to remain in the UK are unclear EU citizens living in the UK could face legal limbo after Brexit

Our advice is to seek to obtain a Residence Certificate or Card or a document certifying Permanent Residence if possible as evidence of your status in the UK.

In addition, new Immigration Regulations came into force from 1 February 2017 which affect how applications for EEA residents documents will be considered.

15 February 2017

The Government’s long-awaited statement in January did not provide any further clarity and nor have the subsequent Parliamentary debates. Importantly the amendment to the Brexit bill proposed by opposition parties that the government guarantee the rights of EEA nationals to remain was defeated.

The official line is still that this is to be decided as part of the negotiations once Article 50 is triggered along with the status of British nationals in other EEA member states.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has however written a letter to reassure some MP’s about the rights of EU citizens. This was referred to (it appears by accident) during the debate on 8 February 2017 and has since been circulated widely. Letter to Conservative MPs

The letter repeats the official line but offers some welcome assurance that the government want to make securing the status of EU nationals in the UK “a priority” once Article 50 is triggered and that it will then be settled by a separate Immigration bill.

5 October 2016

The Prime Minister announced on 2 October 2016 that Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March 2017 and so the UK looks on course to leave the EU by spring or summer 2019.

BBC update 2 October 2016

There is ongoing uncertainty about whether EU nationals and their families will continue to be able to live and work in the UK after Brexit.  The International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, said on 4 October 2016 that the Government “would like to be able to give a reassurance to EU nationals in the UK but that depends on reciprocation by other countries” but “to give that away before we get into a negotiation is to hand over one of our main cards in that negotiation and doesn’t necessarily make sense at this point.”  Liam Fox 4 October 2016

It seems that the future rights of EU nationals are likely to remain unclear for some time whilst negotiations take place. Our advice is for EU and EEA nationals and their family members to obtain proof of their current right to remain now, and ideally prior to Article 50 being triggered, especially if they wish to remain in the UK long term.

There are three possible ways to obtain proof of the right to reside in the UK:

  • If you have worked, studied or been self-sufficient in the UK for less than 5 years you can apply for a Registration Certificate
  • If you have worked, studied or been self-sufficient in the UK for over 5 years you can apply for a Permanent Residence document
  • If you already have Permanent Residence you can apply to become a British national

Many EU and EEA nationals working here are in posts crucial to the UK economy. Businesses can seek to future proof staffing issues and minimise disruption by preparing and implementing an immigration strategy for staff who are EU nationals. Our advice is to encourage employees to obtain proof of their right to remain as soon as possible.

As well as confirming the date of the commencement of the Brexit process, the Government made announcements about changes to other UK immigration laws on 4 October 2016. It appears likely that they will undertake wider scale reform of immigration law leading up to and following Brexit which will affect other non-British/EEA nationals either already in the UK or wishing to come here. Seeking advice on the options available now to secure your immigration status is our recommendation.

24 June 2016 – our correspondence to clients following the referendum result:

Following the unexpected result of the EU Referendum vote, many clients, whether individuals and businesses, will be concerned about the impact of the on their immigration options.

The Government have said that there will be no immediate changes. Negotiations will however soon begin to achieve the UK’s exit.

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon provides the legal basis for a member of the EU to exit. It gives a timescale of 2 years for this process once it formally commences.

It is not yet clear whether this will indeed be how long the process will take.

The impact on UK domestic immigration law and human rights provisions is also not yet known.

As the situation becomes clearer we will be able to advise on the implications for you.

Please do contact us if you have any queries.

You can talk to Molly Beattie by telephone on 0191 232 9547 (ext. 1306) or contact her by email to molly.beattie@davidgray.co.uk

The team specialising in this area of work