Plans have been outlined to grant UK residents from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway similar rights post-Brexit as those from EU Member States. These developments have come as engagement between the UK and the three EEA EFTA members intensifies.
Agreement was reached in December 2017 to secure the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the 27 EU Member States. Government estimates put the number of people affected as 3 million EU citizens and 1 million UK citizens.
Government officials have met with their EEA EFTA counterparts in order to extend the deal to each other’s citizens.
The existing agreement between the EU and the UK covers residency, healthcare, pensions, mutual recognition of professional qualifications and other benefits. This could be extended to citizens of the three EEA EFTA states and UK citizens resident in these countries. The government estimates there are 18,000 Norwegian nationals, 2,000 Icelandic nationals and 40 Liechtenstein nationals living in the UK, and 15,000 UK nationals in Norway, 800 in Iceland and 60 in Liechtenstein.
EEA EFTA citizens are covered by free movement provisions through the EEA EFTA states’ membership of the European Economic Area Agreement. This allows them to currently move to the UK and other EU states, and similarly UK citizens are able to move to the three EEA EFTA states.
Following their meeting earlier this week the UK and EEA EFTA countries issued the following joint-statement:
Officials from the EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and the United Kingdom met on 12 February 2018 to discuss the agreement reached by the United Kingdom and the European Union on citizens’ rights in December 2017. Positive discussions on these issues took place at the meeting and the parties affirmed their desire to secure the status and protect the rights of UK nationals living in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and nationals of those countries living in the UK.
19 December 2017
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has written to EU nationals resident in the UK to reassure them about their future in the UK after Brexit.
This follows information provided recently by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, about negotiations and an agreement reached with the EU, details of which can be found here.
Ms Rudd emphasised that the agreement reached would ensure the rights that EU nationals and their families currently have would remain broadly the same after Brexit with access to healthcare, benefits and pensions protected. And close family members living outside the UK would retain the right to join EU nationals in the UK in the future.
Ms Rudd says the Home Office has been working hard to build the digital system that EU nationals will use use to get their new settled status. She says it is being designed from scratch to be quick and simple to use. She maintains that there won’t be bureaucratic hurdles – those processing applications will work in favour of applicants.
Ms Rudd also confirmed that the application for settled status will cost no more than the fee a British person pays for a passport. If an applicant already has valid permanent residence documentation then the application process will be free. She says there will be support for vulnerable people and those without access to a computer. And the Government is consulting with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.
Ms Rudd says more detail about the settled status scheme will be released in the new year. It is expected that applications will open during the second half of 2018.
11 December 2017
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has further clarified the rights of EU citizens after Brexit. Her comments follow the conclusion of the latest round of negotiations with the European Commission.
The assurances the Prime Minister made included:
- That the rights of EU citizens will be written into UK law.
- That those rights will be enforced by UK courts. Where appropriate, UK courts will pay due regard to relevant European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law, and where existing case law is not clear – UK courts will be able to choose to ask the ECJ for an interpretation prior to reaching their decision.
- A new settled status scheme will be introduced for EU citizens and their family members.
Key features of the new settled status scheme will be:
- If an EU citizen already has five years of continuous residence in the UK at Brexit (29 March 2019) – they will be eligible for settled status.
- If they have been here for less than five years they will be able to stay until they reach the five year threshold.
- EU citizens with settled status can be joined in the UK by close family members after the UK has left the EU. This includes existing spouses, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents.
- Healthcare rights, pension and other benefit provisions will remain the same as they are today.
- EU citizens with settled status will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing their status – more than double the period allowed under current EU law.
The agreement reached with the EU includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications – for example for doctors and architects.
The Government says it will introduce a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable EU citizens to apply for settled status from the second half of next year. And it says the process will cost no more than applying for a passport. And if you already have a valid permanent resident document you will be able to have your status converted to settled status free of charge.
The Government also says that it is working closely with Switzerland and EEA Member States to ensure their citizens in the UK also benefit from these arrangements.
The latest advice from the government, dated 7 November 2017, has set out more details of a new settled status scheme for EU citizens.
The government says the new system will be streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly. EU citizens will also be consulted on its design.
EU citizens wanting to remain in the UK after Brexit will not have their applications refused on minor technicalities. Caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion and the government expects most cases to be granted.
The latest proposals from the government commit to:
- giving EU citizens 2 years after Brexit to apply for settled status
- minimising the documents applicants need to provide
- enabling caseworkers to contact applicants to resolve minor issues
- making the cost similar to a British passport
- giving unsuccessful applicants a right of appeal
- introducing a digital, streamlined and user friendly application system
- not requiring EU citizens to have sickness insurance or provide fingerprints
- a simpler, lower cost process for those who already have permanent residence documentation
For the latest information about the status of EU citizens in the UK visit GOV.uk