The end of Freedom of Movement post- Brexit

By Toby Hiscock

On 18 October 2019 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper called ‘The UK’s future Immigration system’. The paper examines the Government’s vision for a unified Immigration system after Brexit and explores some of the changes and additions that have been proposed for Britain’s post-Brexit Immigration system. 


The UK’s exit from the European Union will bring with it an end to Freedom of Movement. Freedom of Movement is a key principle of the European Union and can be defined in this context as the right of EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members to live and work freely in the UK without visa restrictions.  

The provisions that relate to EEA and Swiss national and their family members are currently contained within the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016. After Brexit, the Government plans to repeal this legislation and bring those who would previously have relied on The Regulations under the jurisdiction of the provisions that apply to all non-EEA related migrants, i.e. the Immigration Rules. 
The exact future of the UK’s relationship with the EU will largely depend on the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement and later a future trade agreement. Successive Conservative governments have attempted to pass varying editions of a withdrawal agreement with little success as of yet. Should a withdrawal agreement be accepted by both the EU27 and UK Parliament then Freedom of Movement will come to an end at the conclusion of the specified transition period.
If, on the other hand, the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this will not bring about an immediate end to Freedom of Movement in practice. Instead the principle will essentially continue until 31 December 2020. For those EEA nationals and their family members who come to the UK after exit day, the government plans to introduce a temporary and voluntary scheme. This will be known as European Temporary Leave to Remain, or Euro TLR.
As indicated above, this scheme will be entirely voluntary so effectively there would be no requirement for EEA nationals and their eligible family members to apply for Immigration status at all until December 2020. Although in practice, it would not be advisable to wait until then. Those who successfully apply for Euro TLR will be allowed to remain in the UK for 36 months from the date of grant. At the end of this period they will be able to apply for status under the new Immigration system that will be in effect, provided that they are eligible. Those who are not eligible will be required to leave the UK.
Contained within the briefing paper are a number of proposals which are designed to help fill the gaps that are expected to emerge following the end of Freedom of Movement. These proposals include bringing back the Post-study Work visa which was scrapped in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, as well a possible new 12-month visa for low skilled workers. In addition to this the Government are considering making significant changes to the existing Tier-2 Worker routes to cope with changes in migration patterns and demand for labour in the post-Brexit landscape. 
The briefing paper provides a useful insight into what the Government may have in store for our Immigration system in the near future and can be found as a PDF attachement below in this article. At OTS we will continue to scrutinise proposed changes to Immigration law in the UK so that we can be prepared for any eventuality and continue to deliver top quality advise and outcomes for our clients. 
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