On 8 December 2017, an agreement in principle was reached between the UK and the EU on the future rights of EU citizens currently living lawfully in the UK. In short, the Government has announced that these individuals will be able to stay in the UK and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now. This agreement applies equally to UK citizens currently living in the EU. However, a word of caution – this agreement is subject to the important caveat that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. For now, the Government maintains that EU citizens do not need to take any steps at this stage to establish immigration status.
The key aspects of agreement on EU citizens include:
- The key date for establishing rights will be 29 March 2019.
- EU citizens who legally reside in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay in the UK, and close family members will be able to join them after the UK has left the EU (where that relationship existed before, and continues after, 29 March 2019). These family members include spouses, unmarried partners, children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents.
- Individuals already holding a permanent residence document on 29 March 2019 will have that document converted into a new document free of charge, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and confirmation of ongoing residence.
- Individuals who have acquired permanent residence rights can leave the UK for up to 5 consecutive years without losing their residence rights.
- EU citizens with settled status and temporary permission to stay will continue to have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits.
- The implementation and application of citizens’ rights will be monitored in the UK by an independent national authority; its scope and functions to be discussed in the next phase of negotiations.
- Administrative procedures for applications for status will be transparent, smooth and streamlined. In particular, the UK will not be able to require anything more than is strictly necessary and proportionate to determine status. Application forms will be short, simple and user friendly, and a proportionate approach will be taken to those who miss a deadline for application where there is a good reason. A period of at least 2 years will be allowed to submit status applications.
- The Government will announce further details on the administrative processes in the first half of 2018. Individuals can be kept up-to-date via the website Status of EU citizens in the UK: What you need to know
- Details of the immigration rules for EU citizens who arrive after 29 March 2019 and during the implementation period are yet to be agreed.
- The Government has published case studies to help individuals determine their status rights.