Brexit immigration update

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January 31, 2020 the United Kingdom officially left the EU, making Brexit a reality. Where the UK was previously part of the rules that are valid for all EU/EEA countries, now a new set of rules applies in UK/EU relations. In this article we will touch upon the consequences Brexit has for immigration and work rights of UK nationals from a Dutch perspective.

First a few hard facts:

  • Brexit is a fact as of January 31, 2020.
  • The EU and the UK have negotiated a ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ (WA) settling issues like immigration and work rights in the respective countries; giving both parties time to arrange matters on the ground.
  • The period the WA covers, ends per January 1, 2021.
  • After the end of the WA, residence- and work permits are needed for all UK nationals and their family members in the Netherlands.

Different scenarios will be discussed in the light of residential and work rights in the Netherlands:

  1. The UK national already lived in the Netherlands pre-Brexit – meaning before January 31, 2020 – and wants to continue living and working in the Netherlands.
  2. The UK national came to the Netherlands during the time of the Withdrawal Agreement (meaning between February 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020);
  3. The UK national will come to the Netherlands after the end date of the Withdrawal Agreement (meaning on/after January 1, 2021).
  4. Naturalisation: in case the UK national has lived in the Netherlands for a consecutive period of 5 years prior to Brexit and meets all other applicable criteria, the case is likely that he/she may qualify to become a Dutch national.

The moment someone registered in the Dutch Municipal Records Database (BRP), is normative for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) to determine in which category a person needs to be placed immigration-wise.

Scenario 1

In scenario 1 what matters the most, is if a person has already lived in the Netherlands for more than 5 years at the moment Brexit became a reality. The moment the accumulation of years starts, is the moment this person last registered in the BRP (previous stays in the Netherlands are not taken into account).

In case a person has already lived in the Netherlands for 5 consecutive years, a permit for an indefinite period of time will be granted. This permit will have free working rights. In case a person has lived in the Netherlands for less than 5 years, a permit for a temporary period will be issued and will also have free working rights. This temporary period will be 5 years initially. After these 5 years have passed, a permit for an indefinite period of time may be requested at IND.

Scenario 2

Scenario 2 is largely the same as scenario 1. The major difference here is that UK nationals in this category will not be able to apply for a permit for an indefinite period of time as they registered in the BRP less than 5 years ago. However, after 5 years of consecutive stay in the Netherlands, they also will be allowed to apply for a permit for an indefinite period of time.

Scenario 3

UK nationals falling into scenario 3 will need a ‘purpose of stay’ prior to be allowed to reside and work in the Netherlands. A purpose of stay can e.g. be employment, study, or family reunification. UK nationals in this category will not have free working rights per definition. However, the Netherlands immigration system offers many opportunities to either be exempted from having a work permit or apply for one through fast-track procedures.

Scenario 4

Last, but not least – scenario 4: the possibility of becoming a Netherlands’ citizen can be further investigated. However, this will need to be done on a case-by-case basis as many factors come together in this procedure.

As these changes in UK/EU relations bring many uncertainties in people’s personal lives and for businesses employing UK nationals in the Netherlands, we advise you to contact your immigration professional at Grant Thornton for further consultation and in-depth analysis of an employee’s personal situation.