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The race for residency: how the Brexit deadline impacts EU citizens moving to London

The Brexit process certainly hasn’t had its skates on since erstwhile PM, David Cameron announced the EU referendum would happen. That was back in February 2016, midway through the previous decade – putting its sluggishness into startling perspective. And while Brexit finally became reality back in January – following two general elections, three PMs and endless uncertainty – it wasn’t the start of a bright new future. A transition phase was triggered: an 11-month period during which London and Brussels face a race against time to finalise a deal on their future relationship.

As the 31 December deadline fast approaches – 1653 days since the UK voted ‘Leave’ – we can finally say the clock is ticking on the Brexit process. So, what does this mean for EU citizens planning to relocate to London? Put simply it means get moving ASAP; otherwise, you’ll be cutting through a lot of red tape the moment the clock strikes 11 pm (in the UK) on New Year’s Eve.

EU-citizens and the Brexit deadline

Irish nationals can continue living in the UK after the transition deadline, while anyone from the rest of the EU, EEA countries and Switzerland who move to the UK before 31 December should apply for the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

If you attempt to move to the UK after 31 December, things start getting more complicated.

On 11 November, the Immigration Act received Royal Assent and was signed into law. At 11 pm on 31 December, this ends the freedom of movement in the UK for all EU citizens without registered residence.

PM Boris Johnson explained that the act will enable the UK to evaluate applications to work in the UK according to their skills and the contribution they can make, not their country of origin.

What this means for EU citizens moving to the UK in 2021

The UK will move to a new points-based immigration system – reversing decades of free movement as a member of the EU. Those wanting to come and work in the UK will have to apply for permission first, before being awarded points according to their skill level in their particular field, their ability to speak English, and the salary they have been offered. They must accumulate the necessary amount of points to come to work and live in the UK post-31 December. According to a Home Office press release: “The government is also introducing special schemes to enable more scientists, academics, investors, entrepreneurs, and health and care workers to come to the UK easily”.

Under the act, from 12 November, all EU nationals wanting to study in the UK will have to gain a place at a higher education institution in the UK first, before applying for a student visa – which is part of the points-based system.

Get help from the experts

The technical – and often confusing – immigration process requires expert support. Simply London works with a network of reputable immigration solicitors, allowing us to use our skills and experience to coordinate the entire immigration process on your behalf. Once this vital aspect of the relocation is successfully completed, you can benefit from Simply London’s specialist home, school and settling-in services.


Note – This article does not constitute legal or immigration advice and you should always consult a qualified professional before undertaking any applications. The information in this article is based solely on our understanding as at the date of the article. Government legislation can change at any time.

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