Brexit without a deal? What could this mean for your immigration status

Britain’s Brexit deadline has been pushed back yet again, this time to the 31 October. Things are more unclear than ever. Following rounds of voting, no clear preference for a way forward has emerged out of Parliament. Huge questions still remain. Harpreet Kaur, looks at what a no-deal scenario would mean for people living in the UK now and how a no-deal Brexit will impact those who want to travel to the UK in the future.

If you or a family member are living in the UK as an EEA national, you’re probably looking at Brexit with concern or confusion – probably both. Perhaps you plan to move to the UK and are equally puzzled. If so, you’re not alone. Every day our legal team advises clients like you on the steps they can take to safeguard their future in the UK.

EEA nationals already living in the UK

If you are already resident in the UK, and wish to remain living here, you will need to apply for either pre-settled or settled status by the 31 December 2020. Alternatively, you could apply for a registration certificate or permanent residence. You can find out more about these options in my previous blog.

EEA nationals coming to the UK

Currently, if an EEA national wishes to enter the United Kingdom they can do so free of immigration control (meaning no time limit on their stay and the right to live and work here). EEA Nationals can also travel in and out of the UK on a European ID card or a passport. This is due to the ‘free movement’ agreement as part of EU legislation. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal it is highly likely that this will no longer be the case.

Under the current guidance, UK Visas and Immigration have stated that you will still be able to enter the UK without a visa if you do not intend to stay in the UK for more than 3 months. This guidance may change however, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Staying for the medium term

When the UK leaves the EU, either on 29 March as originally planned or following a short-term delay as is currently being sought by the UK parliament, those who want to stay for more than 3 months will need to get a European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR) visa once they have arrived. This is intended to be a temporary visa route until the UK’s new skills-based immigration system is introduced in 2021.

The ETLR visa will allow European nationals arriving in the UK after the 29 March 2019 to work, study and live in the UK. It will be granted for 3 years and will not be extendable once it expires. Once the 3 years grant has expired you will not be able to apply for further leave to remain nor will this grant lead to indefinite leave to remain (previously known as permanent residence) and you will not be able to convert this grant to EU settled status.

Staying for the long-term

If you arrive in the UK post-29 March 2019 and want to remain in the UK for more than 3 years, you will need to apply under the new immigration system which is due to come into effect in January 2021. The requirements for the new immigration system have been published in ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’. However, these requirements could change as it is a ‘white paper’ meaning practitioners/ MPs could put a case forward for amendments before it comes into force.

Unfortunately, at present, it remains unclear what requirements would need to be met in order to remain after a grant of Temporary Leave to Remain expires. Things should become clearer in time and myself and my team can advise on any developments.

Family members of EEA nationals

If you are a non-EEA national but have a close family member who is, then it might be possible for you to apply for an EEA national family permit in order to enter the UK.

Details relating to this have yet to be finalised but it is thought that it will have similar requirements to the current regime for family members of EEA nationals. Under the current regime ‘close family members’ are defined as spouses, partners, dependent children, grandchildren, dependent parents and dependent grandparents. It is unknown whether there will also now be an income criteria for family members but it is though that this will be likely. Currently this criteria only applies to British Citizens, who must earn above £18,600 in order to bring their family members from non EU Countries to be with them in the UK.

Making sense of it all

Strong indications have been given about what the future immigration system will look like but as is clear, there are still lots of details to be ironed out. What precautions you should be taking now will depend on your individual circumstances and if you would like more advice on any of the above, please feel free to contact our team who will be able to provide advice on the best route for your specific needs.

Please note that the immigration rules are changing frequently and current negotiations may well affect what is decided.

About the author

Harpreet Kaur is a qualified solicitor with five years’ experience in immigration, tenant, family and childcare law. Harpreet leads Consonant’s private client law service, advising individuals and businesses on a wide range of immigration matters under EU and UK law. In addition to English she is fluent in Punjabi and can also conduct business in Urdu and Hindi.

If you would like to know more, or need legal advice please contact 020 7354 9631 or email Harpreet at harpreet.kaur@consonant.org.uk