Government outlines no deal arrangements for EU citizens

30 January 2019

The Home Office and the UK Visas and Immigration have set out provisions for EU citizens coming to the UK after EU exit in the event of a no deal.


If Britain leaves the EU without agreeing a deal, the government will seek to end free movement as soon as possible and has introduced an Immigration Bill to achieve this. For a transitional period only, EEA citizens and their family members, including Swiss citizens, will still be able to come to the UK for visits, work or study and they will be able to enter the UK as they do now.

However, to stay longer than 3 months they will need to apply for permission and receive European Temporary Leave to Remain, which is valid for a further 3 years.

EU citizens wishing to stay for longer than 3 years will need to make a further application under the new future skills-based immigration system, which will begin from 2021.


Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that this policy does not apply to those that are already here in the UK before exit day, whose rights to live and work will be protected by the EU Settlement Scheme. He said, “We want them to stay and value them hugely”.


The information provided also confirms that if there is no deal:

  • EU citizens arriving in the UK who wish to stay longer than 3 months and apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks before being granted permission to stay for three years.

  • non-EU family members who wish to accompany an EU citizen under these arrangements will need to apply in advance for a family permit.

  • EU citizens will be able to enter and leave the UK as they do now, using e-gates when travelling on a biometric passport.

  • the initial 3 months’ leave to enter for EU citizens will be free of charge but applications for European Temporary Leave to Remain will be paid for. Fees will be set out at a later date.

  • Irish citizens will not need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain and will continue to have the right to enter and live in the UK under the Common Travel Area.


New future skills-based immigration system

The Home Secretary has set out plans for a new future skills-based immigration system which will operate from 2021. It will enable employers to attract the skills they need from around the world, while ensuring net migration is reduced to sustainable levels.

The government published a White Paper in December 2018 making it clear that freedom of movement will end on 31 December 2020 and setting out key provisions for 2021 and beyond, which will apply whether the UK leaves Europe with or without a deal.

The White Paper takes into account the recommendations made in a September 2018 report on the ‘impact of EEA migration in the UK’ by the Migration Advisory Committee.

Proposals in the White Paper include:

  • Introducing a single, uncapped route which gives access to highly skilled and skilled workers from all countries.

  • Such workers will need an employer to sponsor them, but employers will no longer be required to carry out a resident labour market test as a condition of sponsoring a worker.

  • The aim will be for the sponsorship system to be straightforward and light touch as possible, and to process the great majority of work visas within two to three weeks.

  • The government will engage businesses and employers as to what salary threshold for skilled labour but they refer to the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory report of retaining the minimum salary threshold at £30,000.

  • There will be no separate scheme for unskilled labour but a transitional arrangement will be put in place allowing for 12-month visas for workers from specified countries for which there will be no specific sponsorship requirement but also no right to access public funds or bring dependents.