Brexit Update – 12th March 2019
What is Brexit?
On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). The UK leaving the EU is known as ‘Brexit’ (short for ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’). On 29 March 2017, the UK gave notice to the European Council under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union of its intention to leave the EU. From this date, the 27 EU member states and the UK had 2 years to negotiate arrangements for the UK to leave.
If a deal is reached, a transitional period will be entered into from the 29th of March 2019 until December 2020, which would in theory mean that the UK has left the EU, but the effect of its leaving will remain unchanged. The UK would remain part of the Single Union and Customs Union and would continue to fall within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice with free movement rights all remaining in place until the end of 2020, with the additional option for parties to extend the transition period even further.
If a deal is not reached, then the UK will leave the EU on the 29th of March 2019 with immediate effect leaving no transitional period. This would cause chaos and disprupt business and travel significantly. It would also leave people with uncertain immigration status. The European Council still has the power to extend the deadline provided that every member state, including the UK agrees to the extension.
Regardless of the final agreement, Brexit is likely to have a significant impact on the rules surrounding immigration but we do not yet know exactly what the implications will be.
Why is the Common Travel Area Relevant?
An agreement on the Common Travel Area has been in place between the UK and Ireland since 1953. Prior to this travel from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland required an identity document and a residence permit was necessary if a longer stay was required. Those travelling from Northern Ireland faced control checks if they sought to travel to Britain. British prime minster Theresa May has insisted that the Common Travel Area will remain in place after Brexit as has the Irish Government. Under the Common Travel Area agreement, Irish and British citizens have free movement rights, the right to work, settle and claim benefits. Brexit gives rise to questions regarding the viability and adequacy of the Common Travel Area and the regulation of travel between the UK and Ireland when one of these remains in the EU and the other leaves. Check back with us for updates over the next few weeks.
What Impact will Brexit have on Immigration?
It is likely that after Brexit, Britain will move to restrict and regulate the movement of all third-party nationals into the UK, including those coming from the European Union – with the exception of Irish nationals. Citizens from other EU member states will have an unimpeded right of movement to Ireland, but no right of onward travel to the UK. We do not yet know what requirements EU nationals will have to meet to travel to the UK or if indeed they will require a visa for travel. It is likely that if there is no deal by the 29th of March that travel would be impeded, at least temporarily until a resolution could be found.
EU Citizens Living in the UK & Pre-Settled Status
It is likely that EU citizens who have resided in the UK for an appreciable period of time and who are registered as EU citizens under the settled status scheme will be able to protect their existing rights however, there is no certainty. All EU citizens, including Irish nationals living in the UK should register as EU citizens to ensure that the time in which they have been living there is noted. You will only need to apply if you do not have indefinite leave to remain. If you do have indefinite leave to remain, you’ll usually have a stamp in your passport or a letter from the Home Office saying this.
According to the UK Government, non EEA citizens will still be able to apply to join a family member in the UK until the 31 December 2020. In order to stay after this date, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you are not living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you will be able to apply to join your family member there after that date if all of the following apply:
- your family member has either settled or pre-settled status
- your relationship began before 31 December 2020
- you remain a close family member, for example a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, a dependent child or grandchild, or a dependent parent or grandparent
For more see the UK.Gov website.
UK Citizens Resident in Ireland
If you are a UK citizen in Ireland and you currently have an application for, or are the holder of, an EU residence card, then there is no change at the moment to your status. There is still time to make new applications under EU Law as the UK is still a member of the EU and will be until either the 29th of March or will be in principal until December 2020. It is still possible to submit new EU Free Movement residency or Visa applications whilst the UK remains a member of the EU.
If you are a UK citizen who has resided in Ireland for five years, then you are probably eligible to apply for naturalisation leading to Irish citizenship.If you have an Irish parent or a grandparent born in Ireland, then you can also apply for Irish citizenship.
EU Citizens Resident in Ireland
Under current European law, EU citizens have a right to enter the UK to seek work, set up a business or live with their own independent resources. It is likely that the UK will seek to limit this right as part of its withdrawal from the Union as many see one of the main drivers for Brexit as being uncontrolled and unsustainable immigration. Check back here for an update.
Will Brexit Effect Asylum Seekers and Refugees?
At present the Dublin II Convention ensures asylum seekers apply for refugee status at the first port of entry into the EU. Where an asylum seeker travels onward to make an application in another EU State, they may be returned to the first port of entry to seek asylum. If there is a no deal Brexit, the Dublin II Convention will no longer apply and asylum seekers will be able to move between the UK and Ireland to make fresh applications. However, a deal may be reached which replicates the Dublin III provisions.