Brexit and EU Nationals in the UK

Ever since the Brexit result was announced in June last year, twelve months of uncertainty have passed, both for EU nationals living in the UK and for expats abroad.


On Monday 26th June, Theresa May’s government released a 15-page document outlining its plans to clarify the status of EU nationals currently living in the UK.


Here we have answered some questions and dispelled some myths around UK/EU residence post-Brexit. If you need any further help regarding UK Citizenship, obtaining Permanent Residence or immigration in general, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.


Will EU citizens lose any rights under the new proposal – if so what will they be?


At the moment, anyone who has "settled status" has been legally treated the same way as UK nationals. This has given them the same rights to pensions, benefits and public services. However, under the new proposal, "settled status" would not give citizens the same family or legal rights they have now.


For instance, if the new proposal comes into effect, anyone who wishes to bring non-EU family members over to the UK to live would need to take an income test to make sure there is enough financial stability to support the family independently. A spouse who is married to someone currently resident in the UK can automatically apply to settle here too, as long as he/she meets the same settlement criteria.


Crucially, the European Court of Justice would no longer guarantee EU citizens' rights. The EU wants to protect these rights but this will be further discussed within the EU-UK Brexit talks.


What if an EU national has lived here more than 20 years and has UK-born children? Will these children be registered as British Citizens?


Naturalisation refers to the legal process of a person – child or adult – moving from being a citizen of one country to a citizen of another. Usually this is where they are born somewhere but were brought up, or live in, a different country. If a child is born in the UK after a parent acquires settled status, the child would automatically become British and would not need to go through the process of naturalisation. It would need to be proven that the child was born in the UK (whether or not the parents have settled status) to determine the next steps. The child may also become British after 10 years of residence in the UK, which in turn would make them a British Citizen.


What does this mean for EU citizens who have only lived in the UK for 5 years or less?


Anyone who arrived in the UK less than five years before the (yet to be determined) cut-off date will be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year total. However, this must be within the two-year grace period which will come after that date. The UK proposed 29 March 2017 as the earliest cut-off date and the day the UK exits the EU as the latest.


If the five years isn’t reached within this time, it may be possible to apply for a temporary residence permit. It must be noted though that if you leave the UK for more than two years after settlement – and you don’t have “strong ties” in the UK - any settled status will be lost.


How can I prove I’m allowed to stay in the UK as a British Citizen?


A document of proof will be issued to you. If you already have a document to show you have permanent residency, you will still need to apply for “settled status”.


Are EU citizens still able to move to the UK until March 2019?


Yes, they can. The UK is a member of the EU until it completely comes out of it, so all freedom of movement legislation applies until then.

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