Brexit Negotiations and EU Citizens’ Rights in Scotland
In June 2016, the UK voted in a referendum (by a small majority) in favour of the UK leaving the European Union. This is often called “Brexit” – short for “British exit”.
However, the UK did not leave the European Union immediately. As you probably know, at this time (January 2019), the Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the European Union are still ongoing. This is why we ask you to read all the information below with caution.
Exiting the EU may have a major impact on EU citizens’ rights in the UK, who will no longer be protected by the “freedom of movement” that allowed them to settle in the UK.
The UK government has announced a new immigration regime that in the event of Brexit will replace the old “freedom of movement” and will cover EU citizens’ rights in the future – this is called “EU Settlement Scheme” with a “Settled Status” application scheme. Under this new scheme, EU citizens who settle in the UK before a certain date will have very similar rights to what they currently have.
Whether and when the “EU Settlement Scheme” and “Settled Status” are implemented, still depends on a few factors. We discuss some scenarios below:
- The UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, with a deal.
If the negotiations between the UK and the EU are successful and the UK leaves the EU according to the plan, the EU citizens currently living in the UK will need to apply for the aforementioned “Settled Status” under the new “EU Settlement Scheme”. The rights of the EU citizens who arrive to the UK before end of December 2020 and apply for the new status will be very similar to what they currently have. You can read more about it on the UK government’s website or in our ‘Settled Status’ tab.
- The UK leaves the EU without a deal.
In the event of “no deal,” it is likely that EU citizens will still need to apply for the aforementioned “Settled Status”. The UK government released a “Policy paper on citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit“ where it states that “the UK will continue to run the EU Settlement Scheme for those resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 in a ‘no deal’ scenario.”
However, the scheme will not be identical in the event of “no deal”. Some changes will apply. For example, in case of “no deal,” the UK government proposes that only EU citizens who arrive in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to apply for the “Settled Status”. The rest will need to comply with The UK’s future skills-based immigration system. For more details on EU citizens’ rights in a ‘no deal’ scenario please consult the policy paper, as the proposals are similar to those guaranteed by the deal, but not identical.
- The UK postpones or cancels Brexit.
We are not sure what will happen to the “EU Settlement Scheme” and “Settled Status” in this case.
It is important to remember that for now everything is only the UK government’s proposal. The implementation of any of the above depends on the political situation.
- You can come to one of our events (we are working on new series; more information will be available soon).
- You can check our “Citizens’ Rights” tab.
- From March 2019, Citizens’ Advice Scotland network will provide a new advice service to European citizens in Scotland affected by changes in the immigration rules as a result of Brexit.
- From April 2019, Home Office will fund organisations across the UK to assist applications for “Settled Status”.