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The Rights of EU Citizens: Breakthrough

After months of talks, on Friday 8th December, it was announced by the European Commission that sufficient progress has been made with respect to the first phase of Brexit negotiations. Part of the first phase was dealing with European citizen rights.

Currently, European Nationals have the right to exercise free movement throughout Europe. However, since Brexit, the landscape has been unclear. On Friday it was announced that there was an agreement which seeks to protect those EU Citizens. The key points to note are:

Before 29th March 2019

  • Those EU Nationals who arrived in the UK before this date and have been residing in the UK for 5 years prior to the UK’s withdrawal from Europe will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and therefore acquire ‘settled status’.
  • Those who arrive by 29th March 2019 but have not resided in the UK for 5 years, by the time we leave Europe, will be able to stay until they have reached the 5 year threshold. Thereafter they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain which will provide them with settled status in the UK.
  • The agreement will also apply to family members who are living with, or seek to join their EU family member in the UK by the 29th March 2019. They too will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK after 5 years in the UK which will allow them to obtain settled status.

After 29th March 2019

  • Provisions have been included to allow close family members (such as spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and grandparents) to join their EU Citizens who are in the UK after the 29th March 2019.
  • EU Citizens arriving after 29th March 2019 will be entitled to live, work and study in the UK. This is subject to further negotiations.

In order to gain settled status, EU nationals will require 5 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK as a worker, self-employed person, student, self-sufficient person, or family member of an EU citizen. One of the current conditions is that they are required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance, however this is being relaxed and will not be a requirement. Further, any EU Citizen lawfully residing in the UK with either temporary or settled status will still continue to gain access to healthcare, pensions as well as other benefits.

It is proposed that before the UK leaves Europe, that a new online application system will be introduced to allow EU nationals to apply for settled status. It is suggested that the fee for applying for settled status will be no more than the cost charged for a UK passport, however, it will be free to those EU nationals that are already in possession of a permanent residence document.

At this stage, it is announced that no action will be required by businesses employing EU Citizens ahead of 29th March 2019. However after the cut-off date, EU citizens will be given at least 2 years to apply for documentation to prove that they have permission to work in the UK legally. Our Immigration Director, Arif Khalfe, recommends that businesses should monitor their workforce with respect to terms of where they work, their immigration status and regularly review their employment contracts. This should be done regardless of the changing landscape.

How we can help

At Lupton Fawcett, we can provide support to EU Nationals as well as businesses in respect to any part of their immigration process. This includes applying for EEA Family Permits, or seeking settled status in the UK. The work we undertake in respect to immigration is done on a highly competitive fixed fee basis.

We are also available to provide various audits which include immigration, employment, and intellectual property to help you combat various issues.

For further information, please contact Arif Khalfe, Director in the Lupton Fawcett Immigration Department.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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