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UK government announce no-deal Brexit means end to EU freedom of movement on 31 October 2019

As the UK looks increasingly likely to be heading towards a no-deal Brexit, the government announced on the 20th of August that freedom of movement for EU nationals will stop on the 31st of October in the event of no deal. This is contrary to the way Theresa May’s legislation would have dealt with phasing out freedom of movement and is likely to cause concern to EU nationals already living in the UK and potential migrants. 

More about the possible end to EU freedom of movement

Any EU citizens arriving in the UK from the 1st of November will fall under the new rules, which have already been criticised as “irresponsible and reckless” by the Lib Dem MP spokesman for Home Affairs.

Under Theresa May’s government, it was proposed that the freedom of movement rules could be prolonged until 2021, or that EU citizens would be allowed to stay in the UK for three months before choosing to apply for an extension to their visa.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dropped these plans and said on the 19th of August that although the UK would not “become hostile to immigration”, it would be “democratically controlled” following Brexit.

EU citizens currently living and working in the UK will retain the right to applying for a settled status visa up to December 2020, however. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when the UK leaves the EU. After Brexit, the government will introduce a new, fairer immigration system that prioritises skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from.”

It has also been announced that “tougher criminality rules” will be in place for anybody applying to come to the UK. 

What does the withdrawal agreement with the EU state?

The withdrawal agreement that was negotiated by Mrs May’s government states that freedom of movement would remain in place for the entire two-year transitional period. However, this deal did not progress through the Parliamentary approvals process. 

Since taking over as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has made it clear that the UK is increasingly likely to leave the EU without a deal if a negotiated deal that is likely to receive Parliamentary approval cannot be set in place.

Will this affect every EU citizen in the UK?

If Brexit does take place under this likely no-deal scenario, EU citizens who have lived and worked in the UK for less than five years will be impacted. EU citizens that have lived in the UK for more than five years will not see any changes to their rights and will be able to apply for pre-settled status or settled status in the normal way.

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