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Home Secretary gives more details on settlement for EU nationals

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.

 

Update on EU citizens’ rights after Brexit

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.

UK Government publishes position on EU migrants in the UK

The UK government has published a document laying out their proposal for the rights of EU citizens who are long-term residents of the UK after Brexit.

The policy paper, The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU, has been published on the GOV.uk website and details what the UK government would like to happen.

As has been reported in the press, the government is offering EU citizens who have been in the UK for five years or more similar rights to people who have been granted permanent residence. This is intedned to be applied with a ‘light touch’ process to make applications easy. EU citizens applying will keep their rights to live and work, as well as access to public funds.

However, under government plans, EU citizens will no longer be able to sponsor spouses or partners to come to the UK unless they can meet the salary threshold of £18,600 per annum. They will also no longer be able to vote in local authority elections and may have to apply for an ID card and provide biometric information to the Home Office.

Certain rights have not been guaranteed under the proposal either. These include access to healthcare, rights for self-employed workers and the status of professional qualifications gained in the EU, which the government has said they will ‘seek to ensure’, rather than guarantee them.

The UK government have also published several case studies, explaining what would happen in certain situations.

Key figures in the EU, including Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, have said the offer doesn’t isn’t enough.

The EU published their document, Position paper on “Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights”on 12th June 2017.

We expect the details of these offers to change as negotiations continue. These documents, however, provide an idea of possible outcomes for EU citizens in the UK.

Government statement on the status of EU nationals in the UK

The Government have released a statement confirming the situation for EU nationals living in the UK after the referendum vote. They have confirmed that there has been no immediate change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.

The statement also confirms that the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal process of leaving the EU will be for Theresa May, the new Prime Minister. The UK remains a member of the EU throughout this process, and until Article 50 negotiations have concluded. When the UK does leave the EU, it is fully expected that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in EU member states, will be properly protected.

I have lived in the UK for more than 5 years. What does the vote to leave mean for me?

  • EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside. This means that they have a right to live in the UK permanently, in accordance with EU law. There is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status.
  • EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship if they would like to do so. The eligibility requirements can be found here.

What if I have lived in the UK for less than 5 years?

  • EU nationals continue to have a right to reside in the UK in accordance with EU law. EU nationals do not need to register for any documentation in order to enjoy their free movement rights and responsibilities. For those that decide to apply for a registration certificate, there has been no change to government policy or processes. Applications will continue to be processed as usual.
  • Non-EU family members of EU nationals must continue to apply for a family permit if they wish to enter the UK under EU law, and they do not have a residence card issued by a member state. There has been no change to government policy or processes, and applications will continue to be processed as usual.
  • Extended family members of EU nationals must continue to apply for a registration certificate (if they are an EU national) or residence card (if they are a non-EU national) if they wish to reside in the UK. There has been no change to government policy or processes, and applications will continue to be processed as usual.
  • Irish nationals enjoy separate rights, under various pieces of legislation, which allow Irish nationals residing in the UK to be treated in the same way as British nationals in most circumstances. There is no change to this position.
  • Croatian nationals might continue to need to apply for a registration certificate to be allowed to work in the UK under the transitional arrangements that were put in place when Croatia joined the EU in 2013. The type of registration certificate that they might need will depend on whether they need permission to work in the UK, and what they will be doing. There has been no change to government policy or processes, and applications will continue to be processed as usual.

Does the government plan to remove EU nationals from the UK?

  • There has been no change to the right of EU nationals to reside in the UK and therefore no change to the circumstances in which someone could be removed from the UK.

As was the case before the referendum, EU nationals can only be removed from the UK if they are considered to pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to the public, if they are not lawfully resident or are abusing their free movement rights.