The Government has already reassured EEA nationals who are in the UK by 29 March 2019 that they will be able to stay, even if there is no deal. They will be required to make an application under the new settled status scheme by 31 December 2020.
The Government has now published guidance on the rules for those arriving after we leave the EU. In the event of no deal, free movement will end on 29 March 2019. There will then be a temporary transitional system from 30 March 2019 until 31 December 2020. The Government expects to implement a new immigration system from 1 January 2021.
Under the transitional system, EEA and Swiss citizens (and their non-EEA family members) will be able to come to the UK in the same way as they can now, and stay up to three months. Leave to enter will be granted automatically on arrival and will include permission to work.
Those who want to stay for more than three months will need to make an application to the Home Office for European Temporary Leave to Remain within three months of arrival. If European Temporary Leave to Remain is granted, the leave to remain will be valid for three years. This will cover migrants until the Government implements a new immigration system from 1 January 2021, at which point migrants will be expected to apply under those new rules. They will not be eligible to apply under the settled status scheme.
The transitional system is helpful for employers who were concerned about facing a cliff-edge in their ability to recruit EU nationals if there is a no deal Brexit. In particular it is likely to help those who recruit seasonal workers or who are happy to rely on staff who plan to come to the UK for a limited period.
But the transitional scheme gives little reassurance to EU nationals who wish to come to the UK after we leave the EU and make their lives here, as they would be moving here with no idea of what the rules will be from 1 January 2021, and whether they will be able to meet the new requirements.
Meanwhile, a statement issued on 1 February 2019 by the European Council confirmed that on the basis of reciprocity, UK citizens travelling to the Schengen area for a short stay (up to 90 days in any 180 days) will be granted visa free travel.