What with the strong victory for the Conservative Party in the General Election, as far as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is concerned, he now has the required mandate to “Get Brexit Done” on 31 January 2020. However, questions remain as to what this will mean for European Union (EU) nationals living in the UK and also the effects on businesses in terms of their recruitment needs for the future.

The Prime Minister has been clear in his position that the UK would leave the EU at the end of January 2020 with or without a deal. On 20 December 2019, MP’s backed the Prime Minister’s plan to leave the EU on 31 January 2020 and the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will now go on through the further stages in Parliament. The Prime Minister’s response has been that the Country was now “one step closer to getting Brexit done”. It does however remain to be seen whether the UK can arrange a trade deal with the EU by the end of the current transitional period which is until 31 December 2020. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, free movement of EU nationals will continue during the transitional period and this basically means that EU nationals arriving in the UK up until the of December 2020 will have the right to live and work in the UK and will continue to do so after free movement ends by applying under the current Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme which grants either Pre-Settled Status or Settled Status.

The position will however be very different if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Rights of free movement would end on the day of exit and only those EU nationals already resident in the UK by that date would be able to apply under the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme. The position at the moment insofar as the Government is concerned is that EU nationals arriving in the UK after Brexit and until the end of the transitional period would be able to live and work in the UK for a further period of 3 years after which they will be required to meet the same Immigration Rules as for all other non-EU citizens. If they are not able to do so, then they will need to leave the UK.

The Government’s position is that from 2021, there will be a new unified immigration system which will apply to all EEA and non-EEA nationals rather than the current system whereby we have Immigration Rules dealing with the position of non-EEA nationals and separate regulations dealing with EEA nationals.

For advice on this or any other immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact Sohan Sidhu.

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