On 26 June 2017, the government published its proposals which in their view will “safeguard the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU”.
To summarise, the UK is proposing the following:
- EU citizens who have resided in the UK for five years and continue to be resident in the UK will be entitled to “settled status”. In the proposal, “settled status” is said to be to indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971.They will have to make an application to obtain the settled status document. Family dependents who join before Brexit will be able to apply for settled status irrespective of the specified date.
- There will be a “cut-off date” which is still being considered and negotiated and at the moment is 29th March 2017. This could mean that EU nationals who have entered since 29 March 2017 could possibly have no rights and be forced to leave the UK unless they make an immigration application for further leave to remain in accordance with the immigration rules at the time. An example would be EU students.
- EU Nationals who arrived in the EU before the “cut-off date” but have not lived in the UK for five years will be allowed to remain until they reach five years, when they will be given “settled status”. During that time, they will be given “temporary status”.
- There will be an automatic “grace period” of up to 2 years between the date the UK leaves the EU and the date all EU citizens will need to have a “residence document” confirming their status in the UK.
The proposals seem to be a waste of time for those who already have permanent residence documents, which would be considered worthless by the Home Office after Brexit. If they do not apply again under the new system, they would be deemed illegal and their inaction criminal by remaining in the UK after the agreed transition period. Certain rights currently enshrined in EU law would be preserved, including benefits, healthcare and pensions entitlements.
At first glance, the proposals appear unreasonable and impractical in terms of removal of EU citizens. They were also strangely proposed late, a year after Brexit was announced which is not re assuring for any EU national.
It is important to remember that at the moment these are just proposals by the UK. They have been tabled as part of a negotiation process. The UK proposals may change, either becoming more generous as part of the negotiation or being withdrawn partially or in full if the negotiations fail.