What does the Post-Brexit deal mean for EU nationals so far?
Under the current Immigration Rules, European nationals have the right of permanent residency if they have resided in the UK as a worker, self-employed person, student or self-sufficient person (i.e. a qualified person) for a continuous period of five years. However, with the current ongoing negotiations relating to Brexit, the status of European nationals is sadly no longer secure and as such European nationals will need to undertake the necessary steps in order to protect their legal status in the UK.
On 26th June 2017, the Government published their policy paper outlining their offer for European citizens and especially in relation to the legal status of those EEA-nationals already in the UK following Brexit. It is important to note that the proposed changes will not affect Irish nationals residing in the UK as these arrangements were acquired through UK legislation and as such prior to our membership with the European Union.
How will this impact EEA-nationals already in the UK?
One of the proposals contained within the policy paper stipulates that European citizens along with their families will be required to request for permission to stay from the Home office. It is clear from this that European nationals will clearly lose the automatic right to reside in the UK without formal permission. This may appear to be quite daunting for those already in the UK and also those who are intending to relocate to the UK in the near future.
Under the new changes, those who have already obtained PR will need to re-apply to the Home Office in order to obtain settled status. The reason for this is that the right to permanent residency is currently acquired through our membership with the European Union and as we are terminating this membership, the right to permanent residency will also cease to exist. One of the basic requirements set out thus far to obtain settled status states that the European national would be required to have been residing in the UK before the ‘cut-off’ date and for a continuous period of five years following which they will be granted permission to stay indefinitely.
How will this impact EEA-nationals planning to relocate to the UK?
For those European nationals who arrive in the UK following the ‘cut-off’ date, they will only be eligible to apply for temporary status which will allow them to remain in the UK legally. Similarly, to those who were residing in the UK before the cut-off date, European nationals arriving after the specified date will eventually be eligible to apply for settled status once they have resided in the UK continuously for five years.
The Government have refused to reveal what the cut-off date will be however, this is unlikely to be earlier than 29th March 2017, the date in which Article 50 was officially triggered, and no later than the official withdrawal date from the European Union.
Following Brexit, those who do not have the relevant residence document to remain in the UK under the above proposals will be provided with a grace period to provide them with sufficient time to make an application and receive a decision from the Home Office. Although the timeframe in which the grace period can be relied upon is unclear, this can last up to two years. Therefore, if European nationals have still not managed to obtain a new residence document by the end of the grace period, they will be required to leave the UK as they will not have permission to remain.
The application process will differ slightly as there will be a new online system that all applications must be submitted to, details of which will be announced in 2018 once the system has gone live.
How can we assist?
We have a specialist team of experienced solicitors who have been attending to all enquiries relating to Brexit through our Brexit hotline. We understand that the period from now until the UK’s formal leaving date from the European Union will cast doubt and uncertainty for many EEA-nationals residing in the UK and as such we have dedicated an entire team to help our client’s through this tough transition.
Please contact our Brexit Hotline Team on 0203 959 9123 and our team of experts will be glad to assist.