Each day now presents new developments in the Brexit negotiations – and in an update to our article of 20 November 2018, the critical EU Summit has now taken place and the leaders of the EU27 Member States have now agreed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the future relationship. This brings to an end the negotiations which began some 20 months ago. The terms have been declared the, ‘best and only deal possible’.

The deal must now be approved by the UK Parliament, with voting now expected to take place in the second week of December 2018. This is by no means a shoo-in; far from it. MPs across all the political parties have voiced significant concerns about the deal, with many expected to vote against it and, in reality, the future of the deal, and the proposed settled status scheme, hangs firmly in the balance.

For many employers, the key issues relate to the future status of EU workers in their UK businesses. By way of reminder, if the deal is approved by Parliament:

  • EU citizens who already lawfully reside in the UK, or who do so by 31 December 2020, will be allowed to live, work and study in the UK on an on-going basis
  • EU citizens who have already reached 5 years’ lawful continuous residence will be required to apply by 30 June 2021 for settled status using an online application form. Those without 5 years’ lawful residence will be required to apply for pre-settled status
  • Existing close family members, who are not living in the UK by 31 December 2020, will be able to join their EU family member in the UK at any point in the future, as long as the relationship still exists when the family member comes to the UK
  • Unless an individual already holds a permanent residence certificate, a fee will be payable to apply for either settled or pre-settled status (£65, if over 16; £32.50, if under 16)
  • The application process requests basic factual information like names and addresses, plus identity must be verified and proof of residence confirmed
  • Criminal convictions must also be declared

A pilot of the settled status scheme is already in operation. It will be fully open by 30 March 2019.