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UNITED KINGDOM – Citizens’ Rights Under the Withdrawal Agreement Versus a No-Deal Scenario

, 10/12/2018

On 14 November 2018, the United Kingdom (UK) government reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The deal, which still needs to be ratified by both the UK and European parliaments, includes arrangements about the legal status of EU citizens in the UK post Brexit.

On 6 December 2018 the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) published a policy paper outlining the UK government’s proposals for protecting citizens’ rights in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreed and ratified withdrawal deal.

Here we examine how the UK government’s proposed no deal arrangements for EU citizens in the UK differ from those in the withdrawal agreement.


In a no-deal situation, with no transition period to the end of 2020 (extendable to 2022) the cut-off dates for applying special rules for EU citizens would be brought forward:

DeadlineWithdrawal AgreementNo Deal
Enter UK to qualify for EU Settlement Scheme31 December 202029 March 2019
Apply under EU Settlement Scheme30 June 202131 December 2020
Family members can join those with settled statusNo deadline29 March 2022
Family relationship must start31 December 202029 March 2019
Higher EU deportation threshold applies to crimes committed31 December 202029 March 2019

Further Details

Other differences in the case of no deal include:

  • The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) would not have jurisdiction as regards EU27 citizens in the UK (under the withdrawal agreement it would have residual jurisdiction for eight years after the end of the transition period.
  • EU citizens would have no right to an appeal to an immigration judge.

The UK government admits that it cannot unilaterally affect the position of UK nationals resident in the EU after Brexit, but the paper includes some guarantees to uphold their rights on returning to the UK, among other tentative proposals.

Actions Items

  • Employers who may be affected by Brexit are encouraged to contact their immigration specialist for case-specific advice.