A ‘no deal’ Brexit is, as you might suspect, a failure between the UK and the EU to reach a withdrawal agreement by the 29th March 2019.
In such a scenario, there would be no 21-month transition period that would occur in the case of a deal, and consequently the UK would immediately cease to exist as part of the EU. Individuals, businesses and public entities would be immediately exposed to any changes as a result of departing the EU and would need to react as best they could.
In terms of immigration, freedom of movement will come to an end regardless of a deal or not, but what specifically does ‘no deal’ mean for those abroad?
What Would ‘No Deal’ Mean for EU Citizens Living in the UK?
The good news for EU citizens already living in the UK by 29th March is that a ‘no deal’ Brexit shouldn’t cause too big an issue. The government has stated the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows residents to apply to stay in the UK post-Brexit, will continue, regardless of a deal or otherwise.
For EU nationals looking to come to the UK after the 29th March, the story is a little different. ‘No deal’ means that freedom of movement ends immediately with no transition period, thus any new arrivals would have to apply to remain in the UK after three months.
With 3 million pre-Brexit Settlement Scheme applications to process alongside upcoming post-Brexit applications to remain, this produces several complex problems for those arriving after the 29th March. The main issues would surround the duration of stay, the ability to work and the legality issues of new arrivals staying in the UK after their initial 3 months.
To summarise: the long-term status of those arriving between ‘no deal’ and the introduction of a new system would be unclear, and that is a major issue.
What Would ‘No Deal’ Mean for British Ex-Pats Living Abroad?
The fate of British ex-pats hangs in a similar limbo to their EU counterparts, with 1.3 million Brits abroad unsure of their rights to remain and work come the 29th March. Qualified professionals practicing abroad may no longer have their qualifications recognised in their current place of residence, whilst all ex-pats could face issues around healthcare, social security and study.
In the event of a ‘no deal’, British citizens travelling to EU countries could potentially lose their free movement rights and be considered ‘third country nationals.’
So, What Does This Mean?
The bottom line to all of this is that no one really knows what will happen or how likely a ‘no deal’ is. The consequences could range from a longer queue at the airport through to loss of jobs, legal issues for employers and the right to remain altogether.
For anyone concerned with the more serious issues surrounding Brexit, contacting an immigration lawyer may be worthwhile and highly effective.