We are all returning back to work after the summer holidays, keen to find out about the progress of the Brexit negotiations.

The excitement bubble was burst at the beginning, as we discovered that the Home Office posted letters to some EU nationals to inform them that they are liable for removal from the UK. Shocking, but not surprising, as the same has happened before. The Home Office has apologised to the individuals by issuing a statement on their website. The issued letters were apparently sent in error. How could such an error occur?

Update on negotiations with the EU

The Home Office has issued a statement with an update on the latest round of negotiations between the UK and EU which concluded in Brussels on 31 August 2017.

The statement announces that progress was made on:

  1. Healthcare – Both parties agreed to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU. However, this protection only applies to those individuals who are present on the day of exit. What will be the position of EU nationals arriving in the UK after Brexit?
  2. Economy – EU citizens will be able to set up and manage business in the UK and vice versa. But we have no enlightenment in relation to entry clearance or residence requirements for European entrepreneurs. Will there be a financial requirement? What about the knowledge of English language? (Both requirements govern applications by non-EEA nationals entering the UK for the purpose of setting up a business.)

Settled status

On one hand, the statement promises that EU citizens with settled status will continue to be treated as if they were UK nationals after we leave the EU. On the other, it says that there will be a process to apply for settled status. This will also apply to those who already hold a permanent residence document under the current free movement rules.

Applications for settled status (or ‘indefinite leave to remain’) for non-EEA nationals currently cost £2,297. Applicants must pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test and prove their knowledge of the English language. Will these requirements apply to already settled EU nationals? The Home Office has provided no advice on this.

Home Office advice for EU nationals

The only clear advice on offer is:

‘As the negotiations in Brussels progress, our advice to EU citizens remains the same: you do not need to apply for documentation confirming your status now.’

Is this because all EU nationals (with or without documentation) in the UK at the time the country leaves the EU will face more complex and expensive applications? The Home Office will surely seek some revenue for allowing EU nationals to regularise their status in the UK.

The Home Office has confirmed a transitional period of two years within which all EU citizens wishing to remain in the UK after Brexit will have to apply for documentation.

EU nationals and their employers

We often hear about the struggle between EU nationals and their employers who, facing high penalties for employing illegal workers, would prefer to be on the safe side and have their EU workers present them with proof of residence and their right to work.

Our advice for EU nationals

With no information about the process and requirements for obtaining documentation by EU nationals, our advice remains: prepare and submit your application to the Home Office now.