Brexit, EU citizens and settlement in the UK

Updated: Mar 19

Since Brexit took place on 31 January 2020, the UK is no longer an EU member state and is considered by the EU as a third country. This raises a number of questions, including under which conditions EU citizens can now come to the UK and how they can apply for settled status there. This year will likely be a period of continuation. Indeed, during the “implementation period” that will run until 31 December 2020 “the UK will apply arrangements similar to the free movement of persons that existed prior to Brexit”, according to Global HR lawyers.


The UK government is planning to implement a post-Brexit immigration system from 1 January 2021 that aims at attracting high-skilled workers. This follows statements by Boris Johnson that he would push for an Australia-style migration system that FCI has analysed previously. EU citizens who plan to live in the UK on or after this date will need to apply under the new system if they are not eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme. Until the end of the implementation period, EU citizens will need to apply under the Scheme for settled status. Global HR lawyers explains that to qualify “a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK will normally be required. Pre-settled status is granted for five years and a further application for settled status should be made once five years’ residence is reached, and before pre-settled status expires”.


Now that EU citizens have become third-country nationals, do they require a business visa or a permission to work in the UK? Although it is unclear what will happen from 2021 onwards, little to nothing will change during the transition year. Thus, arrangements similar to free movement of persons will continue to apply and work permits will not be required until 1 January 2021. As for settlement, the UK government notes that for the moment nothing will change either: there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021.


Global HR lawyers not only provides information on the situation in the UK for EU citizens living or moving there, but also on that of UK citizens living in or moving to the EU-27 Member States. More detailed information country-specific information is available on special websites of some of the respective EU-27 Member States, for example in Spain and the Netherlands.


Edited by: Dr. Olivier Vonk

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