Following reports in August 2019 that EU free movement would end abruptly from 31 October 2019 in the event of no deal, the Home Office has issued new guidance, effectively confirming a transition period for immigration purposes until the end of 2020, regardless of how and when the UK leaves the EU (as originally proposed in January 2019 under Theresa May’s government).

In summary, EU and EFTA citizens arriving in the UK for the first time following a no-deal exit will be eligible for a temporary immigration status known as European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR). Applications will be made after arriving in the UK via an online system, which appears to be very similar to that used for the EU Settlement Scheme, in that it will require identity, security and criminality checks. Successful applicants will be granted a period of 36 months’ leave to remain, following which, should they wish to remain in the UK, they will need to apply for further leave under a new points-based immigration system, expected to be in place from January 2021.

EU and EFTA citizens arriving after a no-deal exit who do not intend to remain in the UK after December 2020 will not need to apply for Euro TLR. In practice, this means that employers will not, for now, need to ensure that new EU and EFTA employees arriving after a no-deal exit have a specific immigration status in order to work in the UK – an EU or EFTA passport or national identity card will remain sufficient proof of the right to work until January 2021.

None of this alters the position for EU and EFTA citizens and their family members already living in the UK before 11 p.m. on 31 October 2019, as they will be eligible to apply for status under the Settlement Scheme, providing they do so before the end of December 2020.