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Citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit
11/12/2018

The government has published a policy paper on what might happen to EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

The government has confirmed that those EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will have their rights protected, i.e. they will be able to stay and will continue to be able to work, study and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis as they do now.

To achieve this, the UK will continue to run the EU Settlement Scheme for those who are resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 in a “no deal’” scenario. However, there would be some necessary changes to the scheme:

  • As there would be no agreed transition period, this guarantee would only apply to EU citizens who are resident in the UK by 29 March 2019, i.e. there is no guarantee of a right to live and work in the UK being given for those EU citizens for arrive in the UK on or after 30 March 2019
  • EU citizens would only have until 31 December 2020 to apply for a status under the EU Settlement Scheme, i.e. there would be no six-month “grace period” beyond this
  • EU citizens would have the right to challenge a refusal of status under the EU Settlement Scheme by way of administrative review and judicial review, in line with the remedies generally available to non-EEA nationals refused leave to remain in the UK. There would be no preliminary reference procedure to the Court of Justice of the European Union, as it would not have any jurisdiction in the UK.

The government is also calling upon the EU and the other EU Member States to take the same steps to reassure UK nationals in the EU that they can stay in the country where they currently live and have their rights protected.

Finally, the UK is seeking citizens’ rights agreements with the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) to protect the rights of citizens. In the event of “no deal” with the EU, the UK would still pursue agreements with the EFTA states to ensure that EFTA nationals and their dependants resident in the UK, and UK nationals and their dependants living or working in one of the EFTA states, by 29 March 2019 will have their rights protected.


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