This update sets out what the deal means for EU citizens living in the UK and what the next steps are.
What does this deal mean?
Below we have set out the key points
- Who it covers: The Withdrawal Agreement will protect those EU citizens who have been exercising free movement rights in the UK at the time of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on the 29 March 2019. Family members living lawfully in the UK with their EU citizen relative at this point are also protected.
- How it works: Those who have already had five years of continuous residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for settled status. Others will be able to remain in the UK to build-up five years’ continuous residence.
- Loss of settled status: Once obtained, people will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing their settled status. This is more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law.
- Healthcare, benefits and pensions: This agreement not only provides certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they’ve already put in and continue to benefit from existing coordination rules for future contributions. Those covered by the agreement will be able to continue to receive healthcare as they do now.
- Reunion with existing family: The deal will allow the close family members of those protected by the agreement, who live in a different country when the UK leaves the EU, to reunite as a family at any time in the future. They will then be eligible for settled status. Close family members are spouses, civil partners and durable partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and dependent grandparents.
- Future family members: Children born or adopted after the UK leaves the EU to those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be protected. Future spouses and partners of EU citizens who want to come to the UK after the 29 March 2019 will need to meet the UK’s immigration rules. This will mean equal treatment for EU and British citizens who marry foreign nationals.
- Frontier workers: Those who live in the UK and work in the EU will be able to carry on as before. This also applies to UK nationals.
- Benefits export: EU citizens legally resident in the UK on 29 March 2019 who are covered by the deal will be able to continue to export benefits under the current EU rules if they are working in the UK or have worked and paid into the system. The agreement ensures that UK nationals living in Europe can also do this.
- Cost of a settled status application: A settled status application will cost no more than the fee paid by British people to get a passport. Those who already have permanent residence documentation will not be charged, but will still need to apply through a simpler process than the full scheme.
- Criminality: Any removals on the grounds of criminality or security will be in line with EU law for criminality prior to exit and UK law for behaviour after the UK’s exit.
- Professional qualifications: The professional qualifications already obtained by those covered by the agreement will continue to be recognised after the day of exit.
- Protection of rights: EU citizens’ rights will be upheld by incorporating the agreement into UK law and EU citizens will be able to take their case to UK courts. UK courts will follow EU caselaw that pre-dates UK’s withdrawal and have due regard to relevant subsequent caselaw.
- Role of the European Court of Justice: After the UK leaves the EU, UK courts can ask the European Court of Justice for a legal view on the law in relation to citizens’ rights if there are questions not previously brought before the courts. UK courts will use the resulting legal view to make final judgment. It will also be limited to 8 years after which references to the CJEU will stop.
How will the settled status scheme work?
We are developing the settled status scheme from scratch. The new system will be streamlined, user-friendly and draw on existing Government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence.
Those applying to stay in the UK after we leave the EU will not have their applications refused on minor technicalities and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate.
As a result, we expect the vast majority of cases to be granted, with refusals most likely to be because of serious criminality or if the person is not an EU citizen (or family member) or not resident in the UK.
Please check details of how the scheme will work, more information will be available in due course.
EU citizens cannot apply right now but can sign up for email updates.
For more information please visit The Home Office website