What has changed
On March 19, 2018, the United Kingdom (UK) government and European Union (EU) reached an agreement with regards to EU citizens and their family members in the UK. Although the UK will formally be exiting the EU (Brexit) on March 29, 2019, the same terms will apply to those EU citizens arriving during the ‘implementation period’ from March 30, 2019 until December 31, 2020. However, registration will be required for those wishing to stay for longer than three (3) months.
Who is affected?
EU citizens and their immediate family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners and children) who will have been continuously resident in the UK for five (5) years by December 31, 2020.
What to expect
New Settled Status For EU Nationals Post-Brexit
EU citizens and their qualifying family members who have been continuously residing in the UK for five (5) years by the December 31, 2020 will be able to apply for settled status, a replacement for the current permanent residence status granted under EU Law.
Individuals who wish to remain, yet arrive in the UK prior to the December 31 deadline and have not been residents for a consecutive five years, will be required to apply for temporary permission until such time they meet the requirements for settled status.
It has also been confirmed that immediate family members of EU citizens will be able to join the EU citizen in the UK after the December 31, 2020 providing that the relationship existed before this date.
New Application Process
The Home Office has promised a new, simplified and user-friendly online application process which will eliminate the need to complete the current long application form and provide a myriad of documents. This new system will be linked to other government department records, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), thus automatically confirming the applicant’s work history. There will also be no need to provide details of the applicant’s travel history or have fingerprints taken.
To apply for ‘settled status’ or temporary permission using the new system, EU citizens and their family members will need to prove their identity and nationality (passport or ID card and a recent photograph). They must also declare any criminal convictions.
Officials have purportedly been advised that the expectation from the government is for applications to be approved if the basic requirements are met. Refusal should usually only be considered on the grounds of serious criminal convictions or security concerns.
Current European Economic Area (EEA) Permanent Status
There remains no legal requirement for EU citizens or their qualifying members to apply for permanent residence as this is a qualifying right under the current EU law.
It may however, be prudent to obtain documentation proving the citizen’s right to permanent residence in the UK if they wish to apply for naturalization as a British Citizen or provide documentation as proof of their right to work in the UK to employers, the latter can be challenging for family members of EU nationals without official documentation.
Citizens who already hold permanent residence or intend to do so before December 31, 2020 will be required to exchange this document for the new settled status before this date in order to continue residing in the UK.
It is anticipated that there will be no fee payable if the EU citizen currently holds permanent residence in accordance with EU Law.
For those without permanent residence who intend to apply for either ‘settled status’ or temporary residence, the fee is expected to mirror the cost of a British passport which equates to approximately £80.
Go Live Date
The Home Office is planning to have the new system up and running by late 2018.
UK Nationals Living in the EU
The UK government has reached a further agreement with the EU to instill reciprocal rights for UK nationals lawfully residing in EU member states. The rights have been assured up until the end of the implementation period of December 31, 2020. Negotiations remain ongoing for 2021 and beyond.
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