Brexit: what does it mean for EU nationals living in the UK?

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What is the Government proposing? 

The Government’s recent publication has shed some light on what was previously a bit of a grey area. They’ve outlined the following.

EU citizens (and their families) who, by 31st December 2020, have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for five years or more, will be able to apply to stay indefinitely, by getting ‘settled status’. This means that they’ll be free to live in the UK, will have access to public funds and services, and will be able to apply for British citizenship once they’re eligible to do so.

For those who haven’t been living in the UK for five years when the UK leaves the EU, the picture is slightly different. They’ll have to apply for ‘pre-settled- status, which would allow them to stay in the UK until they reach the five year threshold, when they can apply for settled status.

What are the timelines involved?

There won’t be any changes to current rights until 1st January 2020.

The process, called the EU Settlement Scheme, will fully open in March 2019, with a deadline for applications falling in June 2021. After that, EU citizens will have to hold either settled or pre-settled status to legally be in the UK.

There are still no details about what rules will apply to EU nationals and their family members who arrive in the UK after 31st December 2020.

Irish citizens won’t need to apply for settled status, but can do so if they wish.

It’s worth remembering, though, that negotiations are still ongoing, so this proposed Settlement Scheme may change.

What should employers be doing?

If you’re an employer with EU employees who wish to remain in the UK, reassure them that their rights will be protected. Encourage them to apply for their settled, or pre-settled, status as soon as the scheme opens.

If you’ve got a large EU workforce, you’ll want to make information about the application process easily available for your employees.

If you’d like any further information about the EU Settlement Scheme, please get in touch.