United Kingdom – Brexit Update

Requirements for European Union (EU) citizens to remain in the United Kingdom (UK)

The British government’s intention is that European Union (EU) citizens who have been continuously living here for five (5) years before the cutoff date, which has yet to be determined, will be able to apply for settled status and therefore remain indefinitely. This will be under United Kingdom (UK) Immigration Law, rather than EU regulations, and once granted, these citizens will have access to public funds and will be able to apply for British citizenship.

Those EU citizens who arrive before the cutoff date but have not been living in the United Kingdom for five (5) years will be able to obtain permission to stay until they have completed five (5) years and will then also be able to apply for settled status. The application process will be more straightforward than it is at present. For example, those EU citizens who have not been working though supporting themselves financially will not have to provide evidence of private comprehensive sickness insurance as they do now.

Those EU citizens who arrive after the cutoff date will be able to apply to remain after the UK leaves the EU and may also become eligible to apply for settled status.

Family dependants either living with or coming to join EU citizens before the UK exits the EU will also be able to apply for settled status once they have been living in the UK for five (5) years irrespective of the cutoff date.

Do EU citizens need to do anything now?

The UK will remain a full member of the EU until March 2019, and as such there will be no changes to the rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK or UK nationals living and working in the EU during this period.

If an EU national has obtained permanent residence or obtains permanent residence status during this period,that status will no longer be valid after the UK leaves the EU, as it is linked to the fact that the UK was a member of the EU. EU citizens who have been living in the UK continuously for five (5) years and those with permanent residence status will be required to make an application for settled status. This streamlined process is expected to go live in 2018.

As such, the only benefit for EU nationals applying for permanent residence now is if they have been living here continuously for at least six (6) years and they intend to apply for British citizenship. Once granted permanent residence, they will be given a letter from the Home Office confirming the date they were deemed to have been settled, which will enable them to apply for citizenship immediately.

Impact on EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU

There is expected to be a grace period of up to two (2) years for EU citizens and their family dependants to apply to the Home Office for permission to stay after the UK leaves the EU in order to be able to continue to live and work. Should they not do this after the exit date, they will not have permission to remain in the UK and will then be subject to the new immigration rules in place at the time, which are yet to be determined.

Impact on employers

Employers do not need to take any action now, as the working rights for EU nationals working in the UK remain the same at this point. As advised above, only when the UK exits the EU will EU citizens and their family members need to apply to the Home Office for permission to stay. As it is anticipated there will be a two (2) year grace period between the cutoff date and the exit date, this should give ample time for such applications to be made.

UK nationals living in the EU

The UK expects other EU countries to allow British nationals the same rights as EU nationals living in the UK. Negotiations are ongoing with the EU, and further details will be published by the Government in due course.

Irish citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in Ireland

Irish citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in Ireland will not be impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, as the arrangements between the two countries pre-date membership with the EU. As such, Irish citizens living and working in the UK will not need to apply to the Home Office to remain or for settled status.

What you need to do
Planning ahead
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.