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European Residence documents

Brexit and Immigration

February 20, 2019 183

If Brexit goes ahead next month, March 2019, then we know where we stand. The EU Settlement Scheme will come into operation, and EEA nationals and their non-European family members will be able to apply for a new European immigration status, which will be either “non-settled status” or “settled status”. Just like Permanent Residence, settled status will be based on five years’ continuous residence.

All EEA nationals and family members should apply for this, but it is free and apparently the application is quite easy. And there will be plenty of time to make the application: up until 30 June 2021. So really it is not too bad.

However – and as we keep reading in the newspapers – Brexit is very confusing and there is all kinds of political stuff going on, and it is not at all certain that Brexit actually will happen on 29 March.

So, if not, then what? Brexit might be postponed. If so, then probably the EU Settlement Scheme might go ahead – for the moment at any rate.

Or there might ultimately be a second referendum, in which case the Brexit referendum decision would either be confirmed or reversed and, if the latter, then presumably things will go back to how they were before.

Or – another possibility – Brexit may happen, but with no deal agreed between the UK and the EU (“No Deal Brexit”). Is this a likely outcome? Perhaps not, but it is at least a possibility.

The Home Office has announced its plans in this situation. The rules will change quite drastically: for one thing the deadline to apply for the new status will be shortened to 31 December 2020. And for another thing – and a very substantial change – EEA nationals and their family members who have not entered the UK by 29 March 2019 will not be able to apply for the new European status. Instead, they will have to apply for yet another new status called “European Temporary Leave to Remain”.

But this status will not be a very good one and it will not confer as many advantages as are available under the EU Settlement Scheme.

So if you are an EEA national or a non-EEA national family member and you are currently outside the UK you might want to act fast in case No Deal Brexit happens!

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