As the Brexit process enters another crucial and decisive phase, the Government has this week published its No-Deal Readiness Report.
Covering ten core areas, the report outlines the measures that the Government has adopted to mitigate some of the impacts of a “hard-Brexit” scenario at the end of October.
In the context of citizens’ rights and the future movement of people, there are no new announcements in the report – the Government has previously published a domestic policy approach for no-deal. However, as 31 October approaches it is worth taking stock of the key points:
Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end when the UK leaves the EU.
New immigration arrangements will not impact EU citizens who are residents in the UK by 31 October 2019.
If the UK leaves without a deal, the EU Settlement Scheme will remain open to EU citizens (including EEA, EFTA and Swiss nationals) resident in the UK by 31 October as well as their family members. The scheme will remain open until 31 December 2020.
The rights of EU citizens and their family members will be protected under existing primary and secondary legislation. EU citizens will continue to have access to domestic healthcare, education and benefits and ongoing recognition of professional qualifications.
The report again emphasises the Government’s unequivocal guarantee to over three million EU citizens now living and working in the UK.
The Government will accelerate its communications campaign to support the EU Settlement Scheme, with particular focus on supporting the vulnerable.
Irish nationals are not required to apply for status as their rights will be protected under existing Common Travel Area arrangements.
Movement of People after Brexit
In the short term, EU citizens moving to the UK will be able to work, study and access benefits and services in the same way as EU citizens resident before Brexit day.
To remain in the UK after 2020 they will be able to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro – TLR) which will last three years.
The transition period will last until the end of 2020. A new legislative framework for UK immigration will take effect on 1 January 2021.
The Government will continue to engage with employers across the UK on the future system and the Home Secretary has commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review how an “Australian style” points-based system can be used to strengthen the UK labour market and attract the “brightest and the best” from around the world.
The new points-based system will be introduced from 2021 whether the UK leaves to EU with or without a deal.
For the time being, border crossing arrangements will remain largely unchanged. EU citizens will enter the UK as they do now, using their passport or national identity card.
UK Nationals in the EU
The Government continues to engage with EU member states to seek to secure the same rights as would be afforded EU citizens in the UK if the country leaves without a deal. Even with this engagement, it is clear that many Member States will not fully reciprocate the UK’s guarantee and UK nationals may face change and uncertainty.
All Member States have made commitments to protect the rights of UK nationals, but these vary in the extend to which they reciprocate the UK’s guarantee.
UK nationals living in EU27 countries should register as resident in the country they are living in. The rules and process for this vary between Member States.
We set out details of the schemes across EU27 on our British Citizens in Europe page.
Travelling to the EU after a no-deal Brexit
The EU has confirmed that UK nationals will not require a visit visa for short stays of up to 90 days in every 180-day period for purposes such as tourism.
There may be increased immigration checks and documentation requirements for UK nationals travelling to the EU. These might include showing evidence of the purpose of their trip and proof they can afford to cover its costs.
Those planning to work or deliver services in the EU, even for short periods, may need to meet additional conditions around supporting documentation, work permits or visas.
Passports will need to be valid for at least six months after the date of entry to the EU and have been issued within the last ten years.
UK nationals are advised to obtain travel insurance to cover emergency healthcare costs.
UK nationals intending to drive in the EU may need to obtain an International Driving Permit and Green Card.
UK nationals will not be permitted to spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period in an EU Member State without obtaining a residence permit.
Likelihood of a No-Deal Brexit on 31 October
It seems that the Prime Minister’s recent proposal for an amended protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland within the draft Withdrawal Agreement has not received a favourable reception in European capitals.
Indications from Government are that talks will break down at the end of this week if negotiations are not seriously underway by then. This will then leave “No-Deal” as the default position on 31 October.
Legislation recently passed in Parliament, known as the Benn Act, requires the Prime Minister to seek an extension of Article 50 to 31 January 2020 in the event a deal is not achieved in October. Whilst the Government has indicated it will comply with the law, the Prime Minister has also repeatedly stated that the UK will leave to EU on 31 October “deal or no-deal”.
It is difficult to see how this contradictory position will play out. What does seem certain however is that all of these complex national existential issues will soon be before the general public once again in the form of a General Election or second referendum.