IMPACT – HIGH
The U.K. Home Office has published its Statement of Intent detailing how it will administer the mass registration of EU nationals currently resident in the U.K. in light of Brexit.
There are approximately 3.5 million EU citizens currently living in the U.K. on the basis of their EU passports alone, exercising their right to free movement under EU law. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement between the U.K. and the European Union reached in December 2017, once the U.K. leaves the EU on March 29, 2019 (“Brexit”), there will be a transition period extending free movement rights until December 31, 2020 during which time EU nationals and their family members can continue to enter, live and work in the U.K. visa-free. EU nationals either already living in the U.K. or arriving before Dec.31, 2020 should apply for “settled status” or “pre-settled status” in order to document their right to reside in the U.K. beyond this transition period. The Statement of Intent sets out the framework for EU nationals (and likely EEA and Swiss nationals) to register their legal right to reside in the U.K. under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, either as permanent residents or in a temporary status that will allow them to become permanent residents after five continuous years in the U.K.
Summary of EU Settlement Scheme:
BAL Analysis: Generating documentation for 3.5 million migrants is a gargantuan administrative task and will depend on the Home Office utilizing the latest technology for online applications as well as applying a “light touch” in terms of documentary evidence. While the commitment to allow EU nationals to remain in the U.K. was made clear by the Withdrawal Agreement, the Statement of Intent provides procedural details on the timing and steps for EU nationals to secure this new documentation.
Although EU nationals and their employers do not need to take any steps immediately, they should be aware of the expected deadlines and prepare to apply when the EU Settlement Scheme is launched in Autumn 2018. EU nationals should be aware that this is a mandatory registration scheme and is not optional (unlikely previous EU/EEA registration schemes)—the right of EU citizens to remain in the U.K. post-Brexit is not automatic and those who do not apply within the published deadlines will become undocumented with no legal right to live and work in the U.K.
EU nationals should weigh various considerations as to the timing of their registration depending on their individual circumstances. BAL has produced a Brexit decision tree to help employers identify different EU migrant groups based on date of entry to the U.K. and support their registration under the post-Brexit settlement scheme.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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