BREXIT – No-Deal Brexit Measures for UK Nationals in the EU

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on 29 March 2019 (or later, after an extension of the Article 50 period) without a ratified withdrawal agreement, then UK nationals will become third-country (non-EU) nationals immediately.

Please also see our broader examination of the possible Brexit outcomes for both UK and EU citizens.

Here we examine the latest measures established or proposed to manage UK nationals in the EU in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

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BREXIT – No-Deal Brexit Measures for UK Nationals in the EU

This alert was prepared with information provided by Newland Chase and partners.

BREXIT – Switzerland To Apply Separate Work Permit Quota for British Citizens in “No-Deal” Scenario

The Swiss Federal Council has decided that, in the event of the UK’s disorderly exit from the EU (i.e., without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement), a separate quota of work permits will be made available from 30 March 2019 to British citizens who wish to enter Switzerland to work.

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BREXIT – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and UK Agree on Citizens’ Rights After Brexit [UPDATED]

The UK has reached a separation agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (‘the EEA EFTA States’), including a deal on citizens’ rights.


On 8 February 2019, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway reached an EEA EFTA No Deal Citizens’ Rights Agreement to protect the rights of UK nationals living in the EEA EFTA states and EEA EFTA nationals in the UK, in a no deal scenario.

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BREXIT – Possible Outcomes for Citizens [Updated 15/02/2019]

On 15 January 2019, the United Kingdom parliament voted overwhelmingly (by 432 votes to 202) against the withdrawal deal negotiated between the government and the EU. On 16 January the UK prime minister survived a no confidence vote. A debate and vote on the government’s “plan B”, and on amendments to it, was held on 29 January 2019, with no more clarity as a result.

While the article 50 process means that, as things stand, the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, with or without a ratified deal, there are several ways that no-deal Brexit may be averted before then.

Here we look at possible outcomes for EU and British citizens, especially in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

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BREXIT – Switzerland and UK Agreement on Citizens’ Rights After Brexit

The Swiss Federal Council and the UK government have approved an agreement protecting the rights of Swiss nationals currently residing in the UK and the reciprocal rights of UK nationals currently residing in Switzerland, after the UK leaves the EU.

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BREXIT – Germany Plans Three-Month Transition Period for UK Nationals to Regularise Immigration Status After a No-Deal Brexit

The German federal government has announced its plans for UK nationals in Germany after 29 March 2019, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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UNITED KINGDOM – Possible Immigration Implications of the UK Vote to Leave the European Union

On Thursday 23 June 2016, a majority of the United Kingdom (UK) electorate voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a non-binding referendum. The result was 52% for Leave, 48% for Remain, on a turnout of 72% of potential voters.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has resigned, with effect from October. As of today, the UK government has not notified the European Council of any decision to leave the European Union (the next step in under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty once such a decision is made). Even once this notification is made, negotiations on the terms of the UK’s exit might take up to two years.

Until any withdrawal agreement is implemented, the legal situation of EU nationals currently living and working in the UK, and UK nationals resident in other EU countries, will not have legally changed.

However, any decision to leave and subsequent negotiations are likely to fundamentally change the UK immigration landscape, since the EU principle of freedom of movement of people would no longer apply to the UK.

How Could Immigration be Affected?

From an immigration perspective, many questions remain unanswered. Future migration from the EU into Britain, and in the other direction, would largely depend on the terms of the deal the UK makes with the EU.

Once outside the EU, and depending on the terms of any agreement with the EU, the UK could implement a new set of immigration rules, restricting future EU migrants’ right to live and work in the UK. During the referendum campaign, pro-Leave politicians repeatedly talked about extending the existing UK points based immigration system (for non-EU nationals) to EU nationals, if Britain decided to leave.

Such a change would likely make the UK a less attractive option as the location for company headquarters, and companies staying in the UK may find it easier to hire UK nationals than nationals of EU countries.

If the UK imposes restrictions on freedom of movement for EU nationals in the future, it is likely that other countries within the EU will impose work permit requirements for all British nationals seeking to work in their countries. In this case, employers operating in the EU, or in countries with reciprocal immigration agreements with the EU, might consider hiring EU nationals rather than UK nationals.

It is important to note, however, that any trade deal negotiated between the UK and the EU may require the freedom of movement principle to be respected, in which case the immigration landscape may remain essentially unchanged.

EU Nationals Already in the UK

There are approximately 3 million EU nationals already resident in the UK (and approximately 1.2 million UK nationals resident in other EU countries).

EU nationals (and their family members) living in the UK are not currently required to have their residence rights officially endorsed (i.e. apply for residence cards). However, EU nationals may optionally register, and, since last week’s events, many more are likely to choose to do so in order to prove and regularise their status.

There is likely therefore, even before the exit is formally triggered or any new agreement reached, to be a surge in applications being submitted to the Home Office by EU nationals seeking an endorsement of their right to remain, creating significant backlogs within the already burdened UK immigration authorities.

UK Nationals in EU Countries

Most (although not all) EU countries already have a formal residence registration requirement for other EU nationals staying for longer than 90 days. However, the referendum result will have left many UK nationals living in other EU Member States anxious about their futures. It is likely that many UK nationals in other EU countries who have previously not applied for permanent residency will be motivated to do so by the referendum result in order to shore up their status and, for some, to get on the pathway to citizenship of another EU Member State.

Action Items

If you or your company would like any assistance with understanding the implications of the referendum result, we would be very glad to be of service. We are happy to talk through any of your concerns or offer specific assistance with:

  • Making UK residence applications for your EU nationals currently in the UK;
  • Making EU residence applications for UK nationals in the EU;
  • Arrangements to transfer staff or operations from the UK to other EU member states.