Post-Brexit rights for EU citizens – the Government sets out it’s position.
On 26 June 2017, the Government published it’s policy paper on the position of EU nationals living in the EU and UK nationals living in the EU.
The paper contains more information about what rights EU nationals and their families will have upon Brexit. Those here with 5 years’ “continuous residence” will be able to apply for settled status under UK law. Those here less than 5 years will be given temporary stay until they get to 5 years and can then apply for settled status.
A separate legal scheme in UK law will be created to consider applications and there is promise of new administrative procedures to make it “as smooth and simple as possible”.
It is also said that they will “tailor the eligibility criteria” such as removing the need to provide evidence of having previous comprehensive sickness insurance for those who have not been working which has thwarted applications for many who have been carers for their families, hitting women particularly. It is worth mentioning here that the UK has been referred to the European Commission over the lawfulness of their current interpretation of this requirement. It is not mentioned whether they will also remove the need for earnings to meet the Primary Earnings Threshold which has hit many low paid and especially part-time and workers, again the lawfulness of which is doubtful.
Whilst the removal of the currently cumbersome 85 page form for Permanent Residence will be welcomed, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and a lack of detail, not least when the cut-off date is. The policy paper calls it “a specified date” and says it won’t be before 29 March 2017 (when Article was 50 was triggered) but that it is subject to the negotiations.
There is also no start date for the new “smooth and simple” procedure. The policy paper refers to mid-2018. Whilst the paper also says that there is no need to apply for settled status before Brexit and that there will be “adequate time” to apply after the exit with no “cliff edge”, this may well not sufficiently reassure the many EU and EEA nationals and their families in the UK now that their rights and ability to continue to live and work in the UK will be protected come March 2019.
It is also confusing as it appears to say that EU nationals who have already acquired a certificate to confirm their Permanent Residence will need to apply again.
In addition, anyone with experience of dealing with the Home Office cannot fail but think that their promise of a “smooth and simple” process to get through applications from 3.2 million EU nationals and their family members from mid-2018 is somewhat ambitious. Indeed it may be that that phrase, like “strong and stable” could come to haunt the Government.
Our advice remains to seek specialist advice if you are unsure about your rights and those of your workers to remain living and working in the UK post-Brexit. If you require advice on your immigration matter, please contact June Holmes on 0191 243 8164.