What is on offer for European Union nationals after Brexit?

Bhumika Parmar, the Director of BP Legal Solicitors takes a look at what is on offer for European Union nationals after Brexit. Bhumika is an expert in Immigration matters.

The British government says it recognises the need to “honour the expectation” to European Union nationals living in the UK and has set out the following key provisions:

Settled status

All European Union nationals who have five years’ continuous residence will be invited to apply for “settled status” in UK law. This is essentially the same as indefinite leave to remain. This means it will cover the right to reside, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and apply for British citizenship. The proposal does not discriminate between different European Union nationalities.

What European Union nationals settled in UK will lose after Brexit

They will lose the right to bring in a spouse to live with them without meeting a minimum income threshold of £18,600, bringing them in line with UK nationals.

They may also lose the right to vote in local elections, but this is not specified in the Home Office policy paper.

Who can apply?

To qualify, the European Union citizen must have:

  1. Been resident in the UK before the specified cut-off date;
  2. Must have completed five years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status;
  3. The cut-off date is yet to be agreed but could fall at any point between March 29 2017, the date that Article 50 was triggered, and the date that Britain leaves the European Union, which is expected to be in March 2019;
  4. An European Union national will be able to leave Britain for up to two years without jeopardising their permanent residence status. This rule also applies in counting the five qualifying years.

European Union citizens who arrive before the cut-off date but have not built up five years’ continuous residence at the time of Brexit will be able to apply for temporary status to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years. Once they have qualified they will be able to apply for settled status. They will be able to access the same benefits as now, including equal access for workers and self-employed and limited access for those not working.

Those who arrive after the cut-off date will be allowed to remain for at least a temporary period and may become eligible for permanent settled status depending on their circumstances.

Family dependents who join before Brexit will be able to apply for settled status irrespective of the specified date. This includes non-European Union family members who have “a genuine relationship” with an European Union citizen.

Those joining after Brexit will be subject to the new immigration rules.

Those who are “serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK” will be excluded from the right to apply for settled status and will be liable to deportation.

How will it work?

On Brexit, the Home Office will assume that all EU European Union nationals and their families have a generic status of “temporary leave” and will be given up to two years’ grace to apply for a resident’s document.

European Union nationals will be able to apply for settled status before Brexit but it will not be mandatory. A settled status residence document will enable them to carry on working lawfully and demonstrate to employers and public services their ongoing right to be in the UK. Those who do not apply at the end of the two-year grace period “will no longer have permanent right to remain in the UK”.