United Kingdom


    1.1 Has any guidance already been issued in relation to Brexit, for example on residence or work permits in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

    Please note that the information in this survey does not apply to Irish nationals, who are considered to be settled in the UK.

    EU Settlement Scheme

    EEA/Swiss citizens must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for settled or pre-settled status if they are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 if a deal is agreed, or by the date of exit if there is no deal. This includes frontier workers who are resident in the UK by the relevant dates. Existing family members of frontier workers may also apply if they are resident in the UK by the relevant dates, as long as the frontier worker is either eligible under the scheme, or they began working in the UK as a frontier worker before the relevant dates and continues to do so.

    To qualify for settled status, a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK will normally be required. Pre-settled status is granted for five years and a further application for settled status should be made once five years’ residence is reached, and before the pre-settled status expires.

    For those already residing in the UK, an initial application must be made under the scheme by 30 June 2021 if a deal is agreed, or by 31 December 2020 if there is no deal. 

    Family members residing outside the UK will be able to apply to join a EEA/Swiss citizen who has status under the scheme at any point in the future, provided a deal is agreed and their relationship with the EEA/Swiss citizen exists by 31 December 2020. If there is no deal, the relationship with an EU citizen must be ongoing, must have existed by the date of exit and an application must be made by 29 March 2022. The family members of citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will have no application deadline. There is also an exception for children born abroad, who may apply at any time after their birth.


    Arrivals after a no-deal Brexit

    If there is no deal, freedom of movement will continue until 31 December 2020.  The non-EU family members of EEA/Swiss citizens (spouse/partner and children under 18) will have to apply for a family permit before travelling. EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members may apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (‘Euro TLR’) on a voluntary basis. This will be a free online application and will be subject to criminality checks.  Euro TLR will be valid for 36 months from the date of grant and will allow work and study but cannot be extended. Time spent holding Euro TLR will count towards the qualifying period for settlement under any of the categories leading to settlement under the post-Brexit immigration system. Individuals who anticipate qualifying for such a category may wish to apply for Euro TLR as early as possible, whereas those who do not may wish to defer their application in order to maximise the total length of time they are permitted to stay in the UK. 


    Post-Brexit immigration system

    The Government is planning to implement a post-Brexit immigration system from 1 January 2021. EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members who wish to live in the UK on or after this date will need to apply under the new system if they are not eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme.

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    Business visas

    2.1 When EEA/Swiss employees become third-country nationals will they require a business visa?

    A visa will not be required for business visits.

    2.2 What documentation will be required for business travel on arrival at the border once EEA/Swiss citizens are considered third-country nationals?

    A valid passport or national ID card will be required, however the UK government intends to phase out the use of national ID cards as soon as practicable, with notice.

    From 1 January 2021, a formal invitation letter will be required if the person intends to undertake permitted paid engagements in certain circumstances as an academic, lecturer, designated pilot examiner, lawyer or professional artist, entertainer, musician or sportsperson.

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    Permission to work

    3.1 When EEA/Swiss citizens become third-country nationals will they need permission to work?   

    Permission to work will not be required until 1 January 2021 in both a deal or no deal situation.

    3.2 If permission to work is needed do any quotas apply for employing third-country nationals?

    The UK currently has a quota of 20,700 places for entry under Tier 2 (General) however it is proposed for this to be abolished from 1 January 2021 when the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system is due to be brought into effect.

    3.3 If permission to work is needed, as of when will it be needed?

    From 1 January 2021.

    3.4 If permission to work is needed, what are the most common categories?

    The immigration categories and their requirements are due to be amended under the post-Brexit immigration system, however the current categories are:

    • Tier 2 (IntraCompany Transfer)
    • Tier 2 (General)
    • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)

    3.5 If permission to work or stay is needed, how long does the procedure take?

    The requirements for sponsorship are due to be reviewed under the post-Brexit immigration system, however under current arrangements, the employer must hold a licence under the relevant category in order to sponsor a worker.  This normally takes 6 to 12 weeks from the date the application is submitted.

    The application process for the individual normally takes between two to four weeks (depending on the country of application) and requires the following steps:

    • being issued with a certificate of sponsorship by the employer;
    • making a visa application;
    • being issued with a biometric residence permit.

    The Government has indicated that it will look to reduce processing times under the new system.

    3.6 If permission to work and stay is needed, what Government fees would be due for such a permission?

    The fees that will apply are not currently known, however as an indication, the current government fees for a five-year visa under Tier 2 amount to GBP 8,419.  This includes an application fee and payment of an immigration health surcharge and immigration skills charge.  Fees for services provided at a UK Visa Application Centre are in addition.

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    Permanent residence

    4.1 From when can third-country nationals obtain permanent residence?

    Permanent residence is normally after five years in work-related categories that lead to settlement. Permanent residence is not available for temporary workers.

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    Residence Status

    5.1 What steps could EEA/Swiss nationals still take to secure their residence status?

    Currently EEA/Swiss nationals should consider:

    • Applying for a permanent residence document under existing free movement law.
    • Applying for British citizenship (noting that their country of citizenship may not allow dual/multiple citizenship).
    • Entering the UK by 31 October 2019 to ensure eligibility under the EU Settlement Scheme in the event of no deal, or if a deal is agreed, entering the UK by 31 December 2020.
    • Applying under the EU Settlement Scheme before the relevant deadlines if eligible to do so.

    Family members should consider:

    • Applying for an EEA family permit (if currently outside the UK and intending to reside in the UK within six months of grant) or an EEA residence card (if already residing in the UK): this step should certainly be taken for durable partners and other family members who are not direct family members as they will not otherwise be eligible to apply under the current arrangements for the EU Settlement Scheme.
    • Applying for British citizenship (noting that their country of citizenship may not allow dual/multiple citizenship).

    Applying under the EU Settlement Scheme before the relevant deadlines if eligible to do so.

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