Skip to Content
11th December 2018

Government’s Policy Paper: Citizens’ Rights

Share this article:

Given the potential option of a no-deal Brexit, there has been increasing concern regarding the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK.

In response, the Department for Exiting the European Union has just released a Policy Paper entitled “Citizens Rights – EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU” which confirms the UK’s position and provides some much needed reassurance to EU citizens and their families that they are “welcome to stay in the UK in the unlikely event of a no deal”.

However, whilst the Policy Paper does provide confirmation that EU citizens’ rights would be protected in the event of a no deal scenario, it goes on to state that there would need to be some “necessary changes”. Such rights to stay in the UK would be watered down in the event of a no deal Brexit compared against the position should a deal be reached under the Withdrawal Agreement, as set out below:


No Deal

Free movement will end 31st December 2020

No change

EU citizens resident in the UK by 31st December 2020 would be eligible to apply under the new EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme would still apply as proposed but only to EU citizens resident in the UK by 29th March 2019

Settlement Scheme applications accepted up to 30th June 2021

Applications will only be accepted up to 31st December 2020

Family members eligible to apply provided relationship existed as at 31st December 2020

Family members can still apply provided the relationship existed as at 29th March 2019

There was no time limit for applications from family members of EU nationals

Family members of EU nationals will need to apply by 29th March 2022

Full appeal rights available

There will be no appeal rights, although there will be the possibility of Administrative or Judicial Review processes to challenge decisions

New UK immigration system will be implemented from 1st January 2021

No change

The above policy proposals will not affect EU citizens currently residing in the UK, whose position will be protected as before.

The Policy Paper does not address, however, what will happen to EU citizens who arrive in the UK between 29th March 2019 and 31st December 2020 should there be a no deal Brexit. Whilst we do not know for certain at this stage, it is possible that the Government will expand the Settlement Scheme at some point to include this group.

Whilst this Policy Paper addresses the rights of EU citizens to reside in the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit, we do not currently know what the converse position will be in terms of UK citizens residing in the EU. In relation to this, the UK Government is pushing for EU Member States to uphold their commitments to UK citizens and put forward policy papers to provide similar reassurances to UK nationals residing in the EU.

A copy of the full Policy Paper can be accessed here.

For more information please contact Lynne Adams on 01908 247025 or click here to email Lynne.