On 24 October 2019 a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was published to reflect the changes required should the UK leave the European Union without a deal being agreed. Initially aimed at the 31 October deadline, the rules will nonetheless apply whatever the date, in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU.

As things currently stand, we are due to leave without a deal on 31 January 2019, although of course in practice this is likely to depend on the outcome of the General Election - it is possible a deal will be agreed, or a further extension negotiated.

The changes cover three key areas.

The first change is in respect of criminality thresholds, i.e. offences which lead to an individual being barred (or deported) from the UK. The current rules are more lenient for EEA nationals, compared to non-EEA nationals. The Government wants to apply the stricter standard to both groups.

In practice this means that if there is a no-deal Brexit, it will be easier for the Government to refuse entry to new arrivals from the EEA or Turkey who have a criminal record, whenever the offences were committed. EEA nationals already living in the UK will benefit from the more generous rules in respect of pre-Brexit conduct, but will have to meet the stricter standard in respect of post-Brexit conduct.

The second change is to reflect the Home Office’s existing policy on the rights of family members who are coming to join an EU national who was living in the UK before a no-deal Brexit.

If the relationship existed before the no-deal Brexit, spouses, civil partners, durable partners, children, parents and grandparents, have until 31 March 2022 to join their family member. This deadline also applies for children born overseas after Brexit.

If the relationship as a spouse, civil partner or durable partner (or other dependant relative) was formed after the no-deal Brexit then the deadline is 31 December 2020.

Finally, the changes provide for the introduction of the European Temporary Leave to Remain Scheme, for EEA citizens, and their close family members, moving to the UK after a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This was previously covered in our September update.

The new rules do not change the position already advised of a deadline, in the event of no-deal, of 31 December 2020 for applications by those in the UK prior to Brexit to apply for pre or settled status.

This article is from the November 2019 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals.