After all of the confusion last month surrounding the end of free movement, the Government released a policy paper on 5 September 2019 confirming arrangements for EU nationals arriving in the UK after a no-deal Brexit.

There will effectively be a transition period until 31 December 2020. During this time EU nationals can continue to come to the UK broadly as they do now to live, work and study here. However, there will be tougher criminality thresholds and at some point in 2020 it will no longer be possible to use ID cards instead of passports at the border. EU nationals will be able to use the e-gates if they have a biometric passport. However the blue EU customs channel will disappear, leaving only the red and green channels depending on whether you have goods to declare. Their non-EEA family members will also be able to come subject to obtaining an EEA family permit.

EU nationals will not be required to apply for a visa before they travel. Once in the UK they will have the option (but will not be required) to apply for a new visa called European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR). This will be valid for 36 months and there is no fee for the application. Any EU nationals who do not hold Euro TLR, or pre-settled or settled status, will be expected to leave the UK by 31 December 2020.

We are still waiting for further details of the Euro TLR process, but the Government has confirmed it will be an online application process and a digital status (like pre-settled and settled status), rather than a visa stamped in the passport, or a biometric residence permit.

Individuals who have obtained Euro TLR will be able to use this to demonstrate their rights to potential employers and landlords etc. Employers will however be relieved to hear that the requirements for right to work checks will not be changing until 1 January 2021. During the transition period, it will be sufficient to check and copy the EU national’s passport or national identity card before they start work. Employers are not required to verify when an individual arrived in the UK, or that they have pre-settled or settled status or that they hold Euro TLR.

EU nationals coming to the UK after Brexit will need to decide on an individual basis when to apply for Euro TLR. The benefit of making a late application, just before the end of the transition period, would be that the individual then has leave for 36 months, without needing to meet the requirements of the new post-2021 system. However, the benefit of applying early is that if the individual can then go on and make an application under the new system, in a category which leads to settlement, they will be able to count the time spent with Euro TLR towards this. Without knowing what the new rules will be, it is difficult to predict what will be most beneficial in each individual case.

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