Free Movement Still In Force After Brexit?

With regards to free movement, if we were asked to describe what will change in legal terms after the 31st October 2019, we would certainly have hesitations and perplexities in explaining how the UK will face the “abrogation” of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 immediately after the Brexit deadline.

The above mentioned rules indeed are currently part of the EU free movement law in the UK. Legally speaking, it seems that the EEA Regulations 2016 will be integrated into UK law. This will be implemented regardless of the scenario (deal or no-deal) we will have to face after the 31st of October.

In more practical terms, this will signify that EEA nationals will be allowed to enter, work and study in the UK after the official date by virtue of sections 2 and 3 of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018. In other words, although the European Law will no longer technically apply after the Brexit day, its content will be assimilated into the UK law, therefore, guaranteeing new EEA entrants free movement rights as before.

This is certainly reassuring, however, as expected  there are also some side effects: despite the EEA nationals entering after the 31st of October will be allowed to “exercise the same rights”, this will be permitted only on a temporary basis, and namely until 2021. After 2021, only who will have obtained a visa will be allowed to stay.

EEA nationals residing in the UK since before Brexit will not be affected by this deadline, provided that they apply for settled and pre-settled status by 31 December 2020 or  June 2021 (depending whether there will be a no deal or a deal Brexit).

This temporary immigration status called European Temporary Leave to Remain, or ‘Euro TLR’ will therefore allow EEA nationals to enter, work and study after Brexit and stay for up to three years. Upon completion of the three years, it seems the “new entrants” will be required to apply for a new immigration status under an apparatus of immigration rules essentially similar to that one currently in force for non-EEA nationals. The good news are that the time spent in the UK on a TLR will be counted towards the Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided the applicant meets the requirements which will be in force after 2021.