The UK government published its policy paper entitled ‘Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU’ on 26 June 2017.
This stated, inter alia:
- ‘until the UK’s exit, while the UK remains a member of the EU, EU citizens resident here will continue to enjoy the rights they have under EU Treaties. We will comply in full with our legal obligations, including in respect of administrative procedures for providing documentation for those exercising Treaty rights;
- after we leave the EU, we will create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident here before our exit. Those rights will be enforceable in the UK legal system and will provide legal guarantees for these EU citizens. Furthermore, we are also ready to make commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement which will have the status of international law. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK;
- these rights will apply to all EU citizens equally and we will not treat citizens of one member state differently to those of another;
- qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status. The administrative procedures which they will need to comply with in order to obtain these new rights will be modernised and kept as smooth and simple as possible;
- the application process will be a separate legal scheme, in UK law, rather than the current one for certifying the exercise of rights under EU law. Accordingly we will tailor the eligibility criteria so that, for example, we will no longer require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ in order to be considered continuously resident;
- all qualifying EU citizens will be given adequate time to apply for their new residence status after our exit. There will be no cliff-edge at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;
- we guarantee that qualifying individuals will be granted settled status in UK law (indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971). This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship;
- to qualify, the EU citizen must have been resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status, at which point they must still be resident;
- those EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years, after which they will be eligible to apply for settled status;
- those EU citizens who arrived after the specified date will be allowed to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period and may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances – but this group should have no expectation of guaranteed settled status;
- family dependants who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years (including where the five years falls after our exit), irrespective of the specified date. Those joining after our exit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens or alternatively to the post-exit immigration arrangements for EU citizens who arrive after the specified date;
- the ‘specified date’ will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. We expect to discuss the specified date with our European partners as part of delivering a reciprocal deal; and
- we will apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK.’
If you require legal advice on these proposed policies, please contact us.