Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

UK to offer EU citizens three-year visas after no-deal Brexit

Move aims to reassure businesses they will be able to recruit and retain staff after Brexit

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel announces three-year visas after no-deal Brexit. / AFP / Oli SCARFF
Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel announces three-year visas after no-deal Brexit. / AFP / Oli SCARFF

Britain's government on Wednesday announced a three-year immigration scheme to cover most European citizens wanting to move to the UK after a no-deal Brexit, in a move to reassure businesses that they will be able to recruit staff they need.

The policy will allow immigrants and close family members from the European Economic Area – which comprises EU nations Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – and Switzerland to apply to live and work in Britain for up to three years.

The UK Interior Ministry said the move, which would run until the end of 2020, signalled "the end of free movement in its current form" from EEA member states.

It said Europeans could still visit Britain on short trips after Brexit without applying for the scheme.

The ministry said tougher criminal laws would also be applied to European citizens after Brexit "to keep out and deport those who commit crimes".

Applications for new three-year stays will involve "a simple online process" involving identity, security and crime checks, the ministry said.

Newly arrived European citizens who want to stay after their temporary status expired would need to apply under a new skills-based immigration system that the government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning, it said.

"Introducing tougher checks and ending free movement as it currently stands will allow us to take the first, historic steps towards taking back control of our borders," Interior Minister Priti Patel said.

"In the future, we will introduce a new points-based immigration system built around the skills and talent people have, not where they are from."

EU citizens already settled in Britain before Brexit can remain indefinitely under a separate "settled status" scheme already launched.

More than a million people had been granted the status through the scheme, the ministry said.

Updated: September 5, 2019 04:19 AM

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