The Home Office has announced freedom of movement is to end on the first day of a no-deal Brexit, overturning the previous government’s plans.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced yesterday (19 August) that in the event of a no-deal Brexit freedom of movement would end on the 31 October when the UK leaves the European Union.
The finer details of this new system are yet to be announced, with the Home Office stating ‘improvements to the previous government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed and the government will set out its plans shortly’.
The announcement affects anyone looking to come after 31 October 2019 to the UK for longer periods of time, be that for extended travel, working or studying in the UK.
While the government stresses that EU citizens and their families who have moved here before 31 October are welcome to stay as there will be no changes to the December 2020 deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, but immigration experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell warn it could cause a rush in applications from individuals.
Expert Opinion“The announcement from the government is of great concern, particularly for the two million or so EEA nationals who reside in the UK but who have not yet applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. How will they be able to prove their entitlement to be in the UK after 31 October?
“This is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs so close to Brexit. Imagine the difficulties of implementing a new system of control in less than 10 weeks when the very nature of the control has not even been determined. How they are going to man the desks at Border Control for this huge surge in passenger examinations? These are two of many immediate and vital concerns.
“European-based businesses must also be tearing their hair out over how to plan for UK–bound post-Brexit secondments of their workers, and applications may create a backlog in the system.
“Let us hope that this is all bluster, part of the political positioning designed to put pressure on the EU to agree to an amended deal.” Philip Barth - Partner
The Prime Minister stated his intention last month (25 July) to introduce an Australian points-based immigration system, which experts at Irwin Mitchell argue is a misnomer considering the UK immigration system is already based on points.
Philip continued: “Points-based immigration systems are typically used by countries to encourage migration into the country rather than control it. Historically, these systems let more people in and are traditionally used by nations with more liberal views towards immigration.
“It is crucial that with any overhaul of the UK immigration system, the right balance is found in attracting talent and controlling overall migration numbers.”