The government has announced that free movement will end on 31 October if the UK leaves without a deal. While this was always possible in the event of a “no deal scenario” this is a departure from the previously stated government policy of introducing European Temporary Leave to Remain visas.

The government have yet to provide detailed instructions on what this will mean in practice. Depending on the commentator, this is either the start of a new Windrush Scandal or a symbolic move to enable to government to prevent EU citizens with a criminal records from entering after Britain leaves.

Importantly, the announcement does not affect the position of EU citizens who are already here, or those who arrive before 31 October 2019. Even in the event of a “no deal scenario” EU citizens who are already in the UK will be able to apply for settled or pre settled status until 31 December 2020 under the EU Settlement Scheme.

However, given the uncertainty about the future, our advice is that if you intend to employ an EU citizen, you should do so as soon as possible. Further, we recommend that any EU citizen already in the UK seeks to formalise their status using the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible.

This change in policy will not affect Irish citizens who will continue to enjoy rights of free movement under the terms of the Common Travel Area, an arrangement that pre-dates the European Union. The British and Irish governments signed a deal in May 2019 guaranteeing that the Common Travel Area would continue after Brexit and the current government have shown no sign of reengaging on this.

If you would like to discuss any concerns or require some advice contact our team on

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