So what is actually changing on 1 July 2021?
EU free movement is ending
Even though the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, free movement legislation continued during the ‘transition period’ to 31 December 2020, and then during the ‘grace period’ to 30 June 2021.
On 1 July 2021 the legal landscape will be fundamentally different from the day before.
Everyone will need PERMISSION to live, work or study in the UK
Everyone that is, except British, Irish and some Commonwealth citizens.
But everyone else will need it - whether you have lived here for decades, or whether you are planning to come to the UK for the first time at some point.
This permission can take the form of:
leave to enter/remain (new arrivals to the UK will get this in the form of visit visa, skilled workers visa etc)
indefinite leave to enter/remain (some EU citizens might have this from years ago)
pre-settled status (leave to remain related to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement)
settled status (indefinite leave to remain related to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement)
But the following do NOT count:
a blue Permanent Residence document (no matter how recently you got it, or how much hassle you went through to get it)
a blue Residence Certificate document
any EEA residence cards
A new digital-only immigration status is launched
EEA and Swiss citizens do not get any physical proof of pre-settled or settled status.
Until 30 June 2021, they can show their passport as proof of their rights.
But from 1 July 2021, proving pre-settled or settled status will be digital and involve a complex set of steps, which will be extremely difficult for many people. Which is why we campaigned for a physical proof proof of status for all and launched legal action.
Eventually the Home Office wants to roll out this digital-only status to all migrants.
Life gets complicated for those who have applied but are waiting
Many people have already applied for pre-settled or settled status, but are still waiting for a decision. Many are waiting weeks, months or even longer than a year. We receive regular emails of people feeling anxious, panicked, in limbo because their life is on hold while they wait.
The Government has not been clear on exactly how things will work for those who have applied but not yet received their status by 30 June.
Without a grant of status, someone cannot generate a ‘share code’ to prove their rights.
So how will they be able to move and rent a new flat? How will they be able to take on a new job? How will they prove they can study without having to pay really expensive international fees? We wrote to the Government, and they replied saying people would prove their rights with their Certificate of Application. We wrote back saying sometimes there's a long delay between submitting an application and getting a Certificate of Application, and asking what happens then?
While we mention Certificates of Application - please check that you have one! Some people think they are waiting for a decision, but it turns out that their application didn't submit properly. If you think you have applied, PLEASE check your emails to find one that has a PDF attached which says you have a Certificate of Application. And if you haven't, contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre without delay.
Life becomes REALLY difficult for those who have not applied yet
For those who could not submit an application in time, or did not know they had to, life will become very difficult - but possibly not straight away.
However, the problems will start the first time they try to move house. Or change jobs. Or open or switch their bank account. Or receive some hospital treatment. Or receive housing assistance, or universal credit. They’ll be asked to prove their status, and they will not be able to do so.
Firstly, the person or organisation checking their status will refuse them their rental, job, bank account, hospital treatment, housing or benefits.
Secondly, it’s possible that the Home Office could be informed. If the Home Office doesn’t consider there’s a ‘reasonable ground’ to make a late application, then removal from the UK becomes likely.
Thirdly, even if it IS possible to make a late application, it could take months to be granted status - and during all this time there’ll be no right to rent, work, or have any help from the state.
This is exactly what happened to victims of the Windrush scandal.
Those with pre-settled status have an insecure status
There are many problems with pre-settled status.
It expires, and failure to apply for full settled status before expiry means automatic loss of status. In which case the person faces all the same consequences as someone who didn’t apply in time, as described above.
It does not entitle people to universal credit if they fall on hard times (they may be able to get help via other, more complex ways - but pre-settled status itself does not entitle people to universal credit. Also please note that the Court of Appeal has overturned this, but the Government is appealing this at the Supreme Court - see here for more details, and important advice for claimants with pre-settled status).
Confusing calculations of absences mean that some people might actually be rejected for full settled status even if they apply in time, and there will be no way of fixing that retrospectively. If you're out of the UK with pre-settled status, check here how your absences from the UK may affect your ability to achieve settled status.
Exercising your family reunion rights
The Withdrawal Agreement protects the right to be joined by certain family members - at any time. This includes spouses and partners (as long as they were your spouse/partner before 31 December 2020), dependent parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.
After 1 July 2021 however, this becomes a lot more difficult in practice.
If the sponsoring person hasn’t been granted status yet (even if they’ve applied), then the joining family member can’t put in an application to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Before 30 June, parents and grandparents are ‘assumed’ to be dependent, but from 1 July, dependency has to be proved, which is a far more difficult process. Moving your widowed mum from Lisbon to London will become very much harder than from Edinburgh to Eastbourne, despite the Withdrawal Agreement promises.