The Consequences of Brexit on EU Citizens

The United Kingdom left the EU on Friday, the 31st of January 2020. However, free movement has not ended; the UK is still in the transition period, which will end on the 31st of December 2020. EU citizens can continue living in the UK within the same manner before Brexit until the 31st of December 2020. From a legal standpoint, nothing changes for EU citizens in the UK during the transition period. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will abide by the EU rules during the transitional period despite no longer being a member. In essence, EU law continues to apply to the UK Citizens’ rights, and freedom of movement will remain as is until the 2nd of January 2021. The transition can, however, be extended once by up to two years; if the UK and EU jointly decide to do so before the 1st of July 2020.

Many EU citizens have been residents in the UK for years, and intend to remain having secured a job and started a family. Around 3.5 million EU nationals are living in the UK (as of summer 2018). 

So, what does Brexit mean for EU citizens?

EU citizens residents can continue to travel to and from the UK with just their passport or national identity card. If they want to work or rent a flat in the UK, they only have to show their passport or national identity card. These rules apply as well to European Economic Area nationals (of Norway, Iceland & Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals.

EU citizens and their family members who are living in the UK, including their children, must apply to the EU settlement scheme, except Irish citizens and those who already have indefinite leave to remain. EU residents who want to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme must arrive in the UK by the 31st of December 2020 and must apply by the 30th of June 2021. 

The Process for Applying for a Settlement Status through the EU Settlement Scheme – Brexit

The process is simple, and the scheme is open. The deadline for applying is the 30th of June 2021. There is no fee; it’s free to apply to the system. You only need an android phone, iPhone 7 or above or a laptop. You will need to download the EU Exit: ID Document Check app and use it to scan your passport and your face. After using the application, you need to fill in an online application form; then, the system will check your tax and benefits records. If these checks show that you have been living in the UK for five years in a row, you will be counted for settled status. If these checks show that you have been living in the UK for less than five years, you will be regarded as for a pre-settled status. If the status you are entitled to doesn’t show, you need to upload documents such as Council Tax bills and utility bills as proof of your residence in the UK. You usually do not need to send your passport or any other documents to the Home Office. 

One of the possible immediate consequences of Brexit is that the sharp drop in migration flows will be in both directions, as people will not be ready to move if they are not sure of their long-term status. EU citizens are likely to find arrangements much more restrictive than before; however, they can obtain permanent residence status after completing a continuous period of five years in the UK.