Brexit – Freedom of Movement after 31 October 2019


​published on August 26, 2019 | reading time approx. 2 minutes


Following the commencement of Boris Johnson's government in July 2019, there have been various media and social media reports in the UK regarding a potential change to the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after the country is due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.



However, no changes have yet been made to the UK Settlement Scheme deadline. By way of a recap, the Settlement Scheme covers all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October 2019 and such citizens have until 31 December 2020 to apply. This article sets out where we are at the moment. 


Boris Johnson's proposed changes

An Immigration Bill drafted under Theresa May's government had already envisaged an end to free movement following a no-deal Brexit, however, in order to avoid a "cliff-edge" until a new immigration system could be put into place the plan was for transitional arrangements to be introduced for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members arriving in the UK between the exit date and 31 December 2020. Additionally, those coming to the UK for short visits would be able to stay for up to three months each time. Anyone wishing to stay any longer would need to apply to the Home Office for EU temporary leave to remain for up to 36 months. Any stays beyond this would need to be applied for under the UK's new immigration system which was expected to be introduced in January 2021.


The Home Office's new factsheet released in mid-August now indicates that there will be a shelving of these transitional arrangements to be replaced by a new immigration system immediately applicable in the event that there is a no-deal Brexit. However, it would seem that there is insufficient time to put a new system in place before 31 October so it is likely that, even in the event of a no-deal, there will still be some form of the transitional arrangement as previously envisaged under Theresa May. At the moment however, the changes are still being developed and the government will set out its plans shortly. The Prime Minister has indicated that he wants to introduce an Australian style points-based system and is commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee to look into this.


This should not affect the rights of all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens resident here by the 31 October 2019 as long as they apply for status under the Settlement Scheme before 31 December 2020. Such citizens intending to relocate to the UK after 31 October 2019 should, however, expect needing some form of immigration permission to do so.



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