Since Article 50 being triggered last month, nationals of the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have been confused and left in the dark about what their work and residence rights in the UK are. Based on publication from the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) website, we have summarised your rights.

What do you have to do?

EU nationals continue to enjoy the same rights as they always have, there will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK as a result of Article 50 being triggered. Britain is still part of the EU at present and therefore EU law still applies.

Mrs. Theresa May did confirm in her letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, that they should seek an early agreement on the rights of UK nationals in the EU, and EU nationals in the UK, on a reciprocal basis.

Whilst there is no obligation or requirement to apply for a document to confirm your residence/permanent residence status, you can still opt to do so, as you will need to show your permanent residence card to apply for British Citizenship.

Have you lived in the UK for 5 years or more?

If so, Permanent Residence is a status that EU nationals would have acquired automatically and this will not change whilst UK are still part of the EU. An application for a Document Certifying Permanent Residence can be made if you wish, especially if you would like to apply for British Citizenship.

Lived in the UK for less than 5 years?

Again, there is nothing you need to do, whilst UK remain part of the EU, you can continue to count time spent here towards your qualifying time for Permanent Residence, providing you are still exercising your treaty rights. Some EU nationals can acquire permanent residence before being in the UK for 5 years, if they qualify under the following:

If you have stopped working

You get permanent residence immediately if you have to stop working permanently (known as ‘permanent incapacity’) because of either:

  • an accident or illness, and your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen.
  • a work-related accident or illness that means you’re entitled to a UK pension.

After you’ve been resident in the UK for 2 years

If you’ve lived continuously in the UK for 2 years you get permanent residence if you have to stop working or being self-employed because of an accident or illness (known as ‘permanent incapacity’).

You must be working or self-employed when you cease to work.

After you’ve been resident in the UK for 3 years

If you’ve lived continuously in the UK for 3 years, you get permanent residence when you:

  • reach State Pension age – you must have been self-employed or worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand.
  • retire early – you must have worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand.
  • start work or self-employment in another EEA country or Switzerland – you must usually return to your UK home once a week, and have worked or been self-employed in the UK for 3 years continuously beforehand.

Visiting and living in the UK

You can still enter the UK for tourism or employment purposes as usual, there are no changes to this, for UK nationals living in the EU, there are no changes either.

Rights of Non-EU family members

There will be no change to the rights and status of non-EU family members of EU nationals whilst the UK remains in the EU. If you’re from the EU but your family member isn’t, they continue to have a right to live in the UK.

Nationals of Croatia

Your rights and status remain unchanged, however, to be allowed to work in the UK you may still need to apply for a Registration Certificate as usual.

Removal of EU nationals from the UK

Only those who pose a threat to the public and those who are not in the UK lawfully or are abusing their rights in the UK would be liable for removal from the UK.