Migration Experts: UK Cannot Terminate Freedom of Movement Overnight on October 31
The United Kingdom cannot terminate freedom of movement on Brexit day, October 31, 2019, experts maintain. The UK hasn’t yet figured out how to tell which EEA nationals are in the country legally, and which are not.
On August 19, the Home Office announced that freedom of movement from the EU would cease to exist overnight in case of a no-deal Brexit. That said, the UK employers would have no clue whether European citizens have entered the country after October 31, comments Oxford University's Migration Observatory. As of now, EU nationals don’t have to register once they are in the UK so the Home Office has no records of their arrival.
The only viable way to tell which EU citizens stayed rightfully in the UK would be based on the EU Settlement Scheme which terminates in December 2020. The Scheme’s goal is to register EU citizens in the UK, yet they are not obliged to participate in the registration.
As of July 2019, only one third of over three million EU citizens in the UK had applied for status. Over two million remain without a status, and it’s highly recommended that they apply as soon as possible.
The announcement of the end of freedom of movement the day after Brexit greatly concerns businesses as well. The Home Office spokesman said they would release the details shortly and urged EU citizens to take advantage of the Settlement Scheme. The government confirmed that - by default - the UK would leave the EU on October 31 without a deal.
The uncertainty of the UK’s current immigration policy is partly due to unreliable migration figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently admitted that they’ve been underestimating EU arrivals and overestimating those from other countries. The ONS has leveraged extra data from the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions in order to adjust the figures. At any rate, the statisticians still haven’t sorted out the figures for EU immigration after 2016.
Based on the latest estimate, the EU migration is now at its lowest since 2013, with 200,000 EU nationals arriving in the year up to March 2019 (the initial Brexit date). It turns out fewer people are coming from the EU to work in the UK due to the dropping GBP rate and the Brexit kerfuffle.
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