Brexit Update – March 2018

Following the latest Brexit negotiations, an agreement has been reached regarding the residential rights of EU citizens and their families. This is welcome news for those who are thinking of coming to the UK during the 2 year implementation period, after we leave the EU at the end of March 2019.


EU citizens and their families, who arrive in the UK during the implementation period  (March 2019 to December 2020) will be able to live, work and study here as they do now. However, they will need to officially register with the Home Office if they intend to stay in the UK for longer than 3 months.

Proposals for registered EU Citizens

The government has put forward these proposals for EU citizens who would like to stay in the UK after March 2019:

  • Once they have been living here for 5 years they will be able to apply to stay indefinitely.
  • They can apply for a temporary status that will allow them to stay beyond the end of the implementation period. This means that they will be able to continue working or studying here until they have reached the 5-year point.
  • They will need to apply for this temporary status either during the implementation period or in the 3 months after the implementation period ends, up to June 2021.
  • After the implementation period ends, EU citizens – who arrived during the 2 year implementation time – can be joined here by family members.
  • EU citizens who live in the EU but travel to work in the UK during the implementation period will be able to apply for permission to continue doing this after the period ends.

There is more information available for EU citizens arriving in the UK during the implementation period.









EU Citizens already in the UK

The situation for EU citizens who arrived before 29 March 2018 is much the same as it was:

  • People who, by 29 March 2019, have been continuously living here for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. That means they will be free to live here, and go on to apply for British citizenship.
  • People who arrive by 29 March 2019, but won’t have been living here for 5 years when we leave the EU, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status.
  • Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 29 March 2019 will also be able to apply for settled status, usually after 5 years in the UK.
  • Close family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens after exit, where the relationship existed on 29 March 2019.

As part of the application process for British citizenship, a language qualification is necessary. Our courses for IELTS UKVI and GESE UKVI may be appropriate for some of your staff.

For more detailed information, there is some guidance available, and also some example case studies.

What should businesses do?

Although it is a relief for overseas staff to know that they have a 2 year breathing space, they may still feel uncertain about their future in the UK. So it is up to companies and their leaders to provide reassurance and support, as well as making sure they prepare for possible government directives. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Appoint an informed HR mentor to offer guidance and signposting to useful services.
  • Assist in helping staff navigate UK citizenship / residency application or naturalisation (including the new registration regulations).
  • Give regular Brexit updates at staff meetings.
  • Review personnel files to ensure you have all the necessary evidential documents for overseas staff employment.
  • Refresh your knowledge of EEA free movement policies for EU and EEA nationals.
  • In case of future EU employee sponsorship, become familiar with current sponsorship directives for workers outside the EU/EEA.


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