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EU citizens in the UK allowed to stay until December 2023 in latest Brexit U-turn (5 September 2019)

Date: 05/09/2019
Duncan Lewis, Immigration Solicitors, EU citizens in the UK allowed to stay until December 2023 in latest Brexit U-turn

On 4th September 2019 the government announced that EU nationals that arrived in the UK before the end of 2020 could stay until December 2023.

The government had initially planned to end the free movement of EU nationals with immediate effect under a no-deal plan; however it has now decided that free movement will not automatically end as a result of a no-deal and will continue to apply until its legal foundation is repealed.

The new scheme will be open to European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens - as well as their ‘close family’ - who move to the UK after it leaves the EU and up until the end of 2020, the government revealed in a statement.

It added that the online applications process will be ‘simple and free.’

The government’s announcement, upon Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister, to end free movement on Brexit day was challenged by the Liberal Democrats and it is understood by migration experts that the plan has been dropped because the government could have been challenged in courts.

Home Secretary Prity Patel said on Wednesday, 4th September, that she would revert to her predecessor’s no deal plan to replace freedom of movement. This would grant all EU nationals entering the UK between the planned Brexit date of 31 October 2019 and the end of 2020 a three-year temporary leave to remain. She further added that the new plans would still involve a tougher regime for EU nationals from 31 October 2019 onwards.

“…ending free movement as it currently stands will allow us to take first historic steps towards taking back control of our borders,” Ms Patel said “in future we will introduce a new point based immigration system built around the skills and taken people have – not where they are from”.

The Home Office has confirmed that the applications for temporary leave will involve a ‘simple online process’ including identity, security, and criminal record checks. The successful applicants will receive a digital status which will entitle them to work and rent property in the UK.

After the three years, the EU nationals who arrived under the scheme will have to apply to work or study if they wish to continue staying in the UK. At present, the EU settlement scheme is open for EU nationals in the UK to apply and register if they wish to stay in the UK.

The Independent criticised the current EU settlement scheme due to lack of physical record which could endanger the EU citizens’ rights. The current settlement scheme offers a digital record of person’s status which the government maintains ‘cannot be lost.’ However, campaigners have argued that the settlement scheme is ‘deeply flawed’ and risks producing another scandal of Windrush proportions after the UK leaves the EU.

Data released by the Home Office shows that 694 citizens from EU countries have been granted citizenship or No Time Limit/Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Windrush scheme, as of 30 June 2019. Human rights campaigners have warned that people are using the Windrush system because they are concerned over the lack of physical identification provided by the government’s main EU settlement scheme.

EU citizens at present living and working in the UK have until December 2020 to apply and secure their status.



For assistance with any issue arising as a result of Brexit, or any other immigration matter, contact Tamana Aziz at tamanaa@duncanlewis.com, or on 020 3114 1130.


Author Tamana Aziz is a director in the business immigration department at Duncan Lewis. Her specialist practice includes immigration applications under EU law, business immigration under the Points Based System (PBS), complex appeals (including deportation and country guidance cases) in Immigration Tribunals, the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Tamana also advises employers and provides bespoke training on subjects such as compliance with the Home Office’s Prevention of Illegal Working regime and how to use the online sponsorship management system. In addition, Tamana advises high net worth and skilled individuals on extending Tier 2 (General) visas, spousal applications, applications for settlement and British Citizenship. Tamana also has significant experience assisting clients with immigration applications under EU law.




Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitors

Our Immigration department is ranked as a top-tier practice in Immigration: human rights, appeals and overstay matters in The Legal 500 2019. As leading immigration specialists we advise on business immigration, right to work in the UK, Tier 2 visa applications, student/graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.

Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. Our specialist solicitors are also able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law during Brexit negotiations and after 31 October 2019, post-Brexit.

For expert legal advice call Duncan Lewis immigration solicitors on 033 3772 0409.


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