What is Brexit and when will it happen?

Brexit is Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s exit from the European Union, following a referendum on June 23rd 2016, in which the country voted to leave. Brexit is due to take effect on 29th March 2019.

What is the current situation?

On Tuesday 15 January, our Prime Minister, Theresa May, presented to parliament the deal she had negotiated with the European Union which would govern the UK's departure from the EU, including the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Parliament voted on whether to accept this deal or not. The deal was decisively rejected in parliament by 230 votes for a variety of reasons. She held a second vote on her deal on 12 March which was again comprehensively rejected by 149 votes.  Parliament then voted to reject a "no deal" scenario and also voted to request a short extension to Article 50, meaning an extension to the Brexit date.  

The EU have accepted an extension to Article 50 until 22 May on the proviso that Theresa May's deal is passed in parliament.  If the deal is not passed the EU's extension will end on April 12th.  The Speaker of the House of Commons has prevented Theresa May from tabling the deal again as it has already been rejected twice, and has no real changes. Parliament are now considering amending the deal themselves. Therefore, with a week to go, the future is still uncertain.

There are still a number of possible outcomes for Brexit including a negotiated deal with the EU, a second referendum with the possibility of remaining in the EU, a decision to revoke Brexit entirely, a further extension of the exit date to give our government time to agree a better deal and/or make preparations for exit, a "No Deal" exit on 29 March (or after the extension period) on WTO terms with no customs union, or a "No Deal" exit and remaining in the EEC customs union.

How will Brexit affect EU workers?

In a statement on 21st September following the Salzberg Summit, our Prime Minister Theresa May has said:

“The government has made clear we will unilaterally protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK in the event of No Deal. To the 3 million here, we say: you are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues, we want you to stay.”

She has reaffirmed this in a speech to parliament on 21 January.

This is a positive sign that, regardless of the type of deal agreed, EU citizens will be protected and will be able to continue with their jobs unaffected after 29 March.

What do I need to do to remain in the UK?

The government are launching a Settlement Scheme for EU Citizens which will be fully launched by 30 March 2019 as outlined below. More information can be found on the UK government’s web page.

How to apply for settled / pre-settled status.

  1. Identity check - you will need proof of identity, e.g. a passport.
  2. UK residence check - you will need proof that you live in the UK, this is likely to be done automatically using your employment and benefits records.
  3. Criminal records check - the government will check to make sure there are no serious criminal convictions.
  4. Application fee - Theresa May confirmed on 21st January that there will be no application fee to this scheme. Anyone who has already paid will be able to claim a reimbursement.
  5. Settled or pre-settled status granted - once you have successfully completed the checks paid the fee, you will be granted either “settled” or “pre-settled” status depending on how long you have resided in the UK. Settled status will only be provided for those who have resided in the UK for 5 years or more. Otherwise you will be given pre-settled status, which allows you to stay in the UK for a further 5 years. When you reach 5 years, you will be able to apply for full settled status and there will be no charge for this.

When does the scheme open and how do I apply?

The scheme will open fully on 30 March.

You will need to download the "EU exit: ID document check" app which you can download from Google Play store. Your phone will only work if it has "Near Field Communication", therefore some older Android phones won't work. The app cannot be downloaded to Apple phones.

To apply you will need:

  • an email address
  • your current passport or biometric residence card
  • a debit or credit card
  • an Android phone (such as a Samsung, Google or Sony phone) with ‘contactless’ - this means you can use your phone to pay for things.

Click here for the link to the government's website with further information on how to apply now.

What is the impact on people arriving after 29 March?

Our Home Secretary, Sajid Javid announced on 28 January that should there be a "No Deal" scenario, anyone who is not resident in the UK on 29 March will need to apply for temporary leave to remain if they are planning to stay for 3 months or more. Anyone wishing to stay for longer than three years would need to apply through a skills based assessment system.

In a No Deal scenario, you will not be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status if you enter the country after 29 March. If an extension is agreed then free movement will still be in place up to the end of that extension period and therefore anyone arriving up to that date should still be in scope to apply for settled status.

I already have permanent residency - will anything change for me?

Yes, your permanent residency will no longer be valid after 31 December 2020

You will be able to exchange your permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain for settled status free of charge.

I already have indefinite leave to remain - will anything change for me?

If you have indefinite leave to remain you can continue to live and work in the UK without applying for settled status.

You can choose to exchange your indefinite leave to remain for settled status, which will allow you to spend 5 years outside the UK rather than 2 years (although this is still being approved by the government).

If I don’t get settled or pre-settled status will I have to leave the UK?

If you haven’t applied for settled or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021 (or by 31 December 2020 in the event of a No Deal) you will be unable to remain in the UK. unless you have indefinite leave to remain.

What about my family members?

Close family members will be covered by the settlement scheme, even if they come from outside the EU.  A "close family member" is a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents.

I have an Irish passport - do I still need to apply?

No, Irish citizens won't be required to apply, however any close family members from outside the UK and Ireland will need to apply.

Need help with your application?

If you are currently applying or thinking of applying for settled status, permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain, Eason would be happy to help you complete your application. If you would like help with this please fill out the question form below and let us know which client site you are working on so that one of our representatives can arrange a meeting with you. Please be aware that the new Settlement Scheme is not fully open until March 2019 so you may not be able to apply for that scheme until then.

Please click here for the full details for the official guidance published by the UK Government

To stay informed visit: eucitizensrights.campaign.gov.uk