News Updates

Post-Brexit immigration proposals

Thursday 7th February 2019

Assuming the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, an implementation period will run until 31 December 2020, during which EU citizens will be able to enter and reside in the UK under the pre-exit rules. EU citizens and their family members who wish to remain after the implementation period ends must apply for settled or pre-settled status by June 2021. The scheme is currently open to employees working in the NHS, social care and higher education, but will open to all on 29 March 2019.

EU citizens who have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years are immediately eligible for settled status. Those living in the UK before the implementation period ends can apply for pre-settled status until they reach the 5 year point. Irish citizens are not required to apply.

Close family members who live in different countries will be allowed to join an EU citizen in the UK at any time under the current rules, providing the relationship existed before the end of the implementation period.

Employers will not be required to carry out retrospective right to work checks on existing EU employees.


EU citizens visiting the UK as tourists or for business will not need a visa.

Skilled workers

A new skills based system will apply to all new migrants. The cap limiting the number of skilled workers entering the UK will be removed and employers will no longer need to carry out the resident labour market test.

Lower skilled workers

Transitional measures will allow lower skilled workers entry without a job offer for up to a year. These workers will not be able to settle permanently, access public funds or switch status. Once the initial year expires, workers are required to leave and cannot reapply for a further year. The measures are expected to remain in place until 2025.


There is no plan to limit the number of international students entering the UK. Most graduates will be offered 6 months of post-study leave. Those with a PHD will be offered a year. Students can switch to the skilled worker route 3 months before course completion and for up to 2 years post-graduation.

All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.