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Government publishes proposals for the rights of EU citizens after Brexit

Date of Publication: 
26 June 2017
Summary: 

Policy paper proposes creation of a new 'settled status' for EU citizens who arrive before a cut-off date

Government publishes proposals for the rights of EU citizens after Brexit

26 June 2017
EIN

The Government has today published its proposals on the rights and status of EU citizens in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, after the UK exits the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the European Council on 23 June 2017.You can read the Government's policy paper here.

A new website with links to all relevant information is at https://eucitizensrights.campaign.gov.uk/. You can also keep up to date by signing up here to receive future email updates about the status of EU nationals in the UK.

A Downing Street press release says today's policy paper "confirms the creation of a new 'settled status' for EU citizens who arrive before a cut-off date, which is yet to be specified and will be agreed as part of the negotiations with the EU."

The press release continued: "Applicants who already have 5 years' continuous residence in the UK will be immediately eligible for settled status. Those who arrived before the specified date but do not yet meet the 5 year threshold by exit day will be allowed to stay until they reach that milestone and can also secure settled status."

The Guardian says the policy paper proposes a "light touch" online system to process applications that will give applicants the same "indefinite leave to remain" status as many non-European nationals who have also lived in the UK for five years.

The proposed simplified "light touch" approach contrasts with the current, much criticised 85-page application form for permanent residency.

BBC News highlighted the key points of the UK's proposals today as being:

• Those granted settled status will be able to live, work, study and claim benefits just as they can now

• The cut-off date for eligibility is undecided but will be between 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2019

• Family members of EU citizens living abroad will be able to return and apply for settled status

• EU nationals in the UK for less than five years at the specified date will be able to continue living and working in the UK

• Once resident for five years, they can apply for settled status

• Those arriving after the cut-off point will be able to stay temporarily

• But there should be "no expectation" they will be granted permanent residence

• A period of "blanket residence permission" may apply to give officials time to process applications to stay in the UK

• The Home Office will no longer require evidence that EU citizens who weren't working held "comprehensive sickness insurance"

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Twitter, however, that the UK's proposals needed "[m]ore ambition, clarity and guarantees."

Barnier said his goal is to see EU citizens in the UK after Brexit have the same level of protection that they currently have under EU law.

Germany's Deutsche Welle reported that the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, welcomed some elements to the proposal, but warned that "a number of limitations remain worrisome and will have to be carefully assessed."

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said many will view the Government's proposals as falling short. JCWI identified five main concerns over:

• No certainty for wider EU treaty rights holders

• New application process for ALL EU nationals, including permanent residents

• No details of application process/evidential requirements

• Family rights

• Cut-off point ('specified date')

See JCWI's press release here for further details.

Garden Court barrister Colin Yeo has produced a detailed analysis of the proposals on Free Movement here. Yeo says that the proposals would mean no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will need to leave, but many questions are still to be answered.