UK reaches agreement over status of EU nationals post Brexit

As the clock ticks towards the UK departure from the EU on 29th March 2019, agreements are beginning to be reached over the relationship between the UK and the rest of Eurozone post Brexit. These negotiations are proceeding in phases, with the latest phase concluding details of the rights of non UK citizens within the UK post Brexit.

The following rights are now agreed, and are to be enshrined in UK law effective from the 29th March 2019:


Right to remain

Generally speaking, if you are already resident within the UK, you will be permitted to remain. If you have already been here for 5 years or more, you can apply for “settled status” that enshrines your right to stay. If you have come to the UK less than 5 years before then you will be permitted to stay until you reach the 5 years mark at which point you will be eligible for settled status.

Having settled status will entitle you to bring close family members into the country to live with you. This includes existing spouses, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents, as well as children born or adopted outside of the UK after 29 March 2019. If you arrive after this date and do not fit into any of these categories, there are no proposals presently to confer settled status upon such persons.

Clearly the devil will be in the detail, but as a general proposition this is very encouraging news. Doubts remain about marrying a non UK national after the 29th March 2019 and whether they would be eligible to join you.  Under present UK law, for UK citizens there are fairly strict eligibility criteria and it seems fair to assume these laws will be applicable to non UK citizens. Moreover, nothing has been said about the category of persons who are presently excluded from attaining leave to remain  within the UK due to having criminal convictions either here or in their country of origin and indeed what happens if you commit a criminal offence here. Again, generally speaking such persons are not eligible to remain presently and one therefore assumes there will be no change in this policy going forwards.


Leaving the UK

Settled status will not be lost if you leave the UK and then return. Under present arrangements you can leave for up to 2 ½ years and not lose the leave to remain. With “settled status” this is being doubled to 5 years.


Access to healthcare, benefits and public services

The intention is that those with “settled status” will continue to be treated as they are now. This will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system can benefit from what they’ve already put in and continue to benefit from future contributions. Those covered by the agreement will be able to continue to receive healthcare as they do now.

Again, the devil will be in the detail, but as a general proposition this does sound very encouraging news.


Professional qualifications

These will continue to be recognised cross border post Brexit. If you become a doctor, dentist or have any professional qualifications in one EU country, that status will be recognised in the UK.


Applying for settled status

If you want to remain in the UK after the 29th March 2019 you will need to attain settled status. Details on how to apply, and the opening of the applications process is scheduled for the autumn of this year. The following are likely to be features of the applications process:-

  1. Fees. A fee will be payable. This has yet to be set, but the indications are this will be between £70.00 to £80.00 per applicant. Each family member is likely to be a separate applicant.
  1. An application form per applicant will need to be completed. It is said this will be a simple form likely to comprise name, address, date of birth, proof of identity, etc.
  1. Proof of residence within the UK for a continuous period of 5 years will be required for every applicant. It is likely you will need to supply something to demonstrate you have lived here such as utility bills in your name, wage slips, tenancy agreements and the like.
  1. Status checks. Although not stated it seems likely background checks will be completed to verify the suitability of the applicant to remain. This may lead to refusal of the application and expulsion for people who have a criminal record.


What do I do now?

In practical terms, nothing. You could apply for leave to remain presently if you wish and then convert that to settled status. You will be allowed to do this free of charge. It would also be sensible to retain evidence about how long you have already lived in the UK as this may well be needed as part of the registration process. If the fees are likely to be an issue, set aside money now or start saving.


Why will I need settled status?

Settled status will confer upon the recipient leave to reside, work, access healthcare and all government services such as education and benefits. If you do not have settled status some or all of these may be denied and you could not remain in the UK.