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European Union Law

Nationals of the member states of the European Union benefit from more favourable provisions of immigration law than nationals of other countries.

It is important to realize, however, that not all EU nationals are in the same position – in some cases there are special provisions.

  • Nationals of European Union Member States: The EEA (European Economic Area) includes all EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and, for immigration purposes, Switzerland. 
  • Croatia: Nationals of Croatia, the most recent member of the European Union, can since 1 July 2013, apply for a worker registration certificate and no longer have to rely on the Association Agreements with the European Union. Other rights, including rights to work in self-employment in the UK, are as for other EU nationals, although be aware that some of these rights depend on the EU national working, rather than just being, in the UK. 
  • ECAA – Turkey: Although Turkey is not a Member State of the European Union its nationals can benefit from European Community Association Agreements (ECAA) between the European Union and Turkey.

Gherson has many years of experience in European cases and cases under the Association Agreements. Contact us to discuss your requirements and how we can help you with your case.


Important note:  Gherson has dedicated a blog to keep track of the extended Brexit discussions.  Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or sign up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date.  

Until the date that the UK exits the EU, the status and rights of EU nationals, plus nationals of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland remain the same.

The UK are proposing a cut-off date which will be no earlier than 29 March 2017 and no later than the date the UK leaves the EU. Depending on whether EU nationals entered before or after this date, and how long they have been in the UK, will determine what status they will have in the UK going forwards. For EU nationals who have entered the UK after the cut-off date the Home Office will be introducing a new immigration scheme specifically for them. This offer is expected to be extended to resident nationals of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Irish nationals however will not need to apply for any new status as the rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s countries are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949.

From the date that the UK leaves the UK there will be a grace period of up to two years in which EU nationals and their families will be able to apply for and receive a residence document under the new immigration scheme. Any EU nationals who do not receive a document confirming their new immigration status by the end of this period will no longer have permission to remain in the UK.

For more information regarding the current proposals from the UK regarding the proposed status, or if you have any queries or concerns about this process, please contact a member of our team.



Our Experts

Adam Hoefel Adam Hoefel



Navka Raja Navka Raja

Immigration consultant and trainee solicitor in our General Immigration Team, with extensive experience of Private Client and Corporate Immigration law




What is the status of EEA nationals in the UK?

As a result of Brexit, the government is changing the immigration status of EEA nationals and their family members seeking to enter the UK after the exit date. Immigration status requirements will change for those already living in the UK before the exit date as well. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the exit process it is difficult to predict when the majority of changes will be enforced.

Am I an EEA national?

Yes, if you are a national of one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 

Important fact: For UK immigration purposes, nationals of Switzerland enjoy similar benefits as EEA nationals.

Can I continue to live and work in the UK as an EEA national after Brexit?

Yes, but you will be required to obtain residence documentation after Brexit. The government has introduced the EU Settlement Scheme and will soon require all UK-resident EEA nationals and their family members to obtain residence documents in order to continue living in the UK.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

In light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the EU Settlement Scheme was launched to register EEA nationals residing in the UK. All EEA nationals and their family members must register under the scheme.

The deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme depends on whether there is a deal or no-deal Brexit.

What if there is a deal?

In the event of a deal, EEA nationals residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be entitled to register under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to register will be 30 June 2021.

What if there is a no-deal Brexit?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EEA nationals residing in the UK on the date that the UK leaves the EU will be eligible to register under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to register will be 31 December 2020. There will be no freedom of movement for EEA nationals after the exit date and additional requirements will apply if they wish to visit, work or live in the UK.

What is Settled Status?

Settled Status is granted to any EEA national who has resided in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. Under certain circumstances, EEA nationals can rely on a historic period of residence in the UK for the application, please contact us for further details.  Settled Status is Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and allows the individual to live in the UK without restriction. This status will only lapse if the individual leaves the UK for 5 years or more.

What is Pre-Settled Status

Pre-Settled Status is granted to any EEA national who has resided in the UK for less than 5 years. The individual is granted 5 years leave to remain in the UK on the date that the application is approved. This status cannot be extended. Once the applicant has resided in the UK for 5 years, they will be eligible to apply for Settled Status.

Can EEA nationals move to the UK after Brexit?

Although the exact dates are yet to be confirmed, the government has announced firm plans to introduce a specific visa category, called European Temporary Leave to Remain for all EEA nationals looking to relocate to the UK after the exit date.

Are family members permitted to come to the UK if they are not EEA nationals?

Yes, but they will need to obtain an EU family permit or permission to enter the UK in advance, which they can get by showing documents evidencing their relationship to you. The government will also introduce deadlines for non-EEA family members wishing to join EEA nationals resident in the UK. Once the non-EEA family member arrives in the UK, they will be required to register under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Settled Status or Permanent Residence?

Both Settled Status and a document certifying permanent residence may be available to an EEA national (and any eligible family members) before exit date. Although there are different nuances to the application process, in summary a Settled Status application is less document heavy, but permanent residence is a better route for those who wish to naturalise as British citizens as soon as possible. You can read more about this on our blog.

Our blog article contains helpful information if you would like to read more about the position of EEA nationals in light of Brexit.


Our team of experts can assist with all aspects of Brexit-proofing your future in the UK.  Please contact our immigration team for a confidential discussion if you would like to review your personal circumstances with us

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