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The UK has officially left the EU. After 3.5 years of political uncertainty and tension 31st January 2020 will go down in history as being a date that marks the end of 47 years’ membership.

UK Parliament ratified the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU via the European Parliament (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 which in turn was accepted by the European Parliament. With formalities completed, the UK has now moved into the ‘transitional period’ which expires on the 31st December 2020.

What does this mean? 
Article 50 sets out the legal and political process but in brief, the UK remains a member of the single market and customs union until 31st December 2020. The UK will have the opportunity to continue negotiations with the EU in the hope of striking a free trade deal, however the short timeframe will put significant pressure on the UK Parliament and EU negotiators to meet the December deadline.

EU citizens 
As a Brexit deal has been agreed in principle with the EU, the rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK will remain the same until 30 June 2021. Those EU citizens who are resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 and their families will be subject to the EU Settlement scheme rules. They will have until 30th June 2021 to apply.

Family members 
Close family members* can join an EU national resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 (or before 31 December 2025 for spouses and civil partners of Swiss citizens). They’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once they’re here. If you cannot bring your family member under the EU Settlement Scheme, they may still be able to come here in a different way, for example on a family visa.

Be warned
All EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK must have applied for a UK immigration status by 30th June 2021.

UK immigration system changes on the horizon
The Migration Advisory Committee was commissioned to review the Australian points-based system to see if it could be applied to a new UK immigration system. This has now been completed and is currently under review with the Home Office. This system ranks and prioritises applicants for jobs based on their characteristics, such as education, language skills and work experience. It is therefore expected that there will be further news on the new UK immigration system in the coming months.

*Close family member definition: you must be the EEA citizen’s spouse or civil partner, or related to them (or to their spouse or civil partner) as their:
• child or grandchild under 21 years old, or dependent child or grandchild of any age
• dependent parent or grandparent

Family members who are adopted under an adoption order that is recognised in UK law are regarded the same as natural family.

Contact us for help with any issue raised in this article.

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