The word ‘Brexit’ is a cause of concern for many European Union (EU) nationals in the United Kingdom (UK). Some South Africans are in the fortunate position to have dual citizenship and EU passports. Previously, this allowed them to live, work and study in the UK without restriction. With Brexit looming, things are a bit muddled and confused. We have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this issue.

Readers must note, however, that the rules can change at any time as negotiations are still in full swing. Our answers below, are correct at the time of publication.

Entering the UK after March 2019

I have an EU passport and would like to relocate to the UK. It is, however, not possible for me to do so before the end of March 2019. Will I still be able to live and work in the UK if I only arrive there after March 2019?

At present, we recommend that you relocate to the UK before 29 March 2019, as the process after March 2019 is very unclear. It has been indicated that EU citizens can still enter the UK until March 2020. However, if there is a ‘no deal’ (if the UK leaves the EU without a deal), the free movement could change. We are unable to guarantee free movement, and thus also entrance into the UK, as of 29 March 2019.

If you are an EU national, have never lived in the UK and want to move there after 29 March 2019, you will need a visa (temporary leave to remain). The visa will be valid for three years and will not lead to a settlement.

The EU Settlement Scheme

I am an EU national and have moved to the UK a year ago. Will I be able to stay in the UK after Brexit?

Yes, you will be able to stay in the UK.

EU citizens and their family members can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, which will allow them to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. The scheme will open fully on 30 March 2019 and close on 30 June 2021. However, if there is a ‘no deal’, the deadline for applications will be 21 December 2020.

If you apply for the scheme, you will receive pre-settled status because you have not yet lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years.

After five years you can apply for settled status, which will allow you to stay in the UK permanently.

I have been living and working in the UK for over six years as an EU citizen. Do I need to do anything regarding the looming Brexit?

If you want to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021, you will have to apply for the EU settlement scheme before that date.

As you have lived in the UK for more than five years continuously, you will receive settled status.

The advantages of settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme include the following:

  • You can live and work in the UK without a time restriction.
  • You can apply for British citizenship.
  • You will have full access to the National Health Services (NHS) and some forms of public funds.
  • Your children born in the UK will automatically be British citizens.


The information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is given for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. We highly recommend that readers contact us for more specific information regarding their specific cases via our website

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
BREYTENBACHS IMMIGRATION CONSULTANTS LIMITED specialises in UK and SA Immigration. We pride ourselves on our reputation for excellence, fast results and friendly service. The consultants in the UK immigration department will be able to give you the best advice on the permit or visa that will enable you to live and work in the UK or South Africa.

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