Need a Brexit Visa?..here’s what you need to know, now!

By Marie Haraburda

On February 19th, REA Coach Jutta Konig participated in a Roundtable discussion sponsored by the Permits Foundation, which is a non-profit organization in The Hague committed to improving work permit regulations for accompanying partners of expatriates around the world. The meeting was hosted by Deloitte at the Brussels airport where Julia Onslow-Cole, Partner, Global Government Strategies and Compliance, discussed the upcoming March 29 European Union (EU) Brexit decision in the United Kingdom (UK) and potential outcomes on immigration policies

Tips for those seeking Visas in the UK

  • With this crucial decision coming, it is recommended that those headed to the United Kingdom do so before the March 29 deadline to avoid potential complications with immigration applications.
  • Those already in the United Kingdom should encourage family members to file for documented immigration status as soon as possible, before the March 29 decision.

In the event that a deal can be reached, the qualifications under the EU settlement include that:

• The relationship to the qualifying EU National existed by December 31, 2020.

• The criminality threshold must be met.

• The individual can apply at any time as long as the relationship was in existence by December 31, 2020 (and continues at the time of application).

• After January 1, 2021, if the relationship to the qualifying EU national did not exist by December 31, 2020, an individual will be able to apply under the Immigration Rules (the minimum qualifying requirements are expected, e.g. earnings).

• The exception will be children born after December 31, 2020.

In the event that no deal is reached, what might the new United Kingdom immigration policy look like?

By January 1, 2021, a new immigration system in the UK will most likely be implemented if no deal is reached on Brexit in March. The new policy will likely state that an EU national family member qualifies for the 12- month temporary work Visa in their own right, while family members who are third-country nationals might have very little, if any, Visa options for the UK. The 12-month Visa route will be for the lower-skilled, meaning that if dependents do not qualify to accompany the principal worker, they will only be able to apply for a visit Visa to support travel to the UK. A travel visit Visa is valid for up to six months. It is in the UK’s best interest to keep immigration access policies as open and flexible as possible. Additionally, Britain is striving for an easy access online application process with E-gates, similar to ESTA in the United States.

Countries that have published “No deal” plans include Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Germany, Portugal, Estonia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Norway, Belgium, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Slovenia, Italy and Austria.

Additional speakers at the Permits meeting were Matthias Lommers, Head of Immigration and Social Security Practice, Deloitte Belgium, Board Member, Permits Foundation, who mentioned that Belgium is lagging behind other EU countries in providing permits for expat spouses.

Michiel van Kampen, Director, PF, presented the Aims and Strategic Plan for the Permits Foundation for 2019 – 2020, which includes targeting 10 specific focus countries such as China, India, Ireland, the United States and South Africa.

During general discussion amongst participants at the Permits meeting, it was mentioned that South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand are countries where many expats are moving, but these countries are not currently on the Permits Foundation list. Singapore was mentioned as a country that is slipping back, showing that continuous effort needs to be made to maintain stable permit status.

Fabian Lutz and Alexandra Carvalho, Legal Migration and Integration Unit, European Commission shared that many EU countries are not willing to give up autonomy on immigration policies, and they are lobbying to create uniformity in immigration procedures for EU member countries. They have devised a Regulatory Fitness Test, which will be published next month. To date, eight countries have provided data. Sponsors are asked to share experiences of difficulties in EU countries in the hope that practice can inform policy.

REA is a sponsor of the Permits Foundation, and REA Coach, Jutta Konig, attended this important Roundtable discussion in Brussels on behalf of REA and contributed information for this article.

“The Permits Foundation promotes the best practice of an ‘open’ work permit or authorization for legally resident expatriate partners. This gives them immediate access to the employment market for the same duration as the main work permit holder, once they have obtained their accompanying family member residence status. They can then apply for jobs freely, and take temporary project work or part-time work, without the uncertainty and time consuming bureaucracy of a work permit application. It also reduces bureaucracy for the authorities and helps employers fill urgent and temporary vacancies.”

For more information on the Permits Foundation, visit

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