Policy Paper | Post-Brexit Rights of EU Citizens in the UK
Safeguarding the Rights of EU Citizens: Summary Proposals
Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU | British Government Policy Paper June 26, 2017, Paragraphs 1-12 of 59
1) In the Article 50 negotiations for the United Kingdom (UK) leaving the European Union (EU), our first priority is to reach agreement on the post-exit position of EU citizens now living in the UK and of UK nationals living in other EU countries. We will put those citizens first, and do all we can to provide reassurance to the EU citizens who have made the UK their home, and likewise for UK nationals who have done the same in countries across the EU.
2) EU citizens are valued members of their communities here, and we know that UK nationals abroad are viewed in the same way by their host countries.
3) The UK is one of the most tolerant and welcoming places in the world and will remain that way. EU citizens who came to the UK before the EU Referendum, and before the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, came on the basis that they would be able to settle permanently, if they were able to build a life here. We recognise the need to honour that expectation. The choice made in the Referendum was about our arrangements going forward, not about unravelling previous commitments.
4) Over one million UK nationals have moved to other countries in the EU, and many have built their lives there. Their ability to stay, and for life to continue much as it does now, depends on the agreement that is reached between the UK and the EU.
5) Our proposals as set out below are without prejudice to Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland (and the Crown Dependencies), and the rights of British and Irish citizens in each others’ countries rooted in the Ireland Act 1949. These arrangements reflect the long-standing social and economic ties between the UK and Ireland and pre-date both countries’ membership of the EU. As such, we want to protect the Common Travel Area arrangements, and Irish citizens residing in the UK will not need to apply for settled status to protect their entitlements. We have also been clear that our exit will in no way impact on the terms of the Belfast Agreement. We will continue to uphold in that context the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to be able to identify as British or Irish, or both, and to hold citizenship accordingly.
6) The Government undertakes to treat EU citizens in the UK according to the principles below, in the expectation that the EU will offer reciprocal treatment for UK nationals resident in its member states:
- until the UK’s exit, while the UK remains a member of the EU, EU citizens resident here will continue to enjoy the rights they have under EU Treaties. We will comply in full with our legal obligations, including in respect of administrative procedures for providing documentation for those exercising Treaty rights;
- after we leave the EU, we will create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident here before our exit. Those rights will be enforceable in the UK legal system and will provide legal guarantees for these EU citizens. Furthermore, we are also ready to make commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement which will have the status of international law. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK;
- these rights will apply to all EU citizens equally and we will not treat citizens of one member state differently to those of another;
- qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status. The administrative procedures which they will need to comply with in order to obtain these new rights will be modernised and kept as smooth and simple as possible;
- the application process will be a separate legal scheme, in UK law, rather than the current one for certifying the exercise of rights under EU law. Accordingly we will tailor the eligibility criteria so that, for example, we will no longer require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ in order to be considered continuously resident;
- all qualifying EU citizens will be given adequate time to apply for their new residence status after our exit. There will be no cliff-edge at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;
- we guarantee that qualifying individuals will be granted settled status in UK law (indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971). This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship;
- to qualify, the EU citizen must have been resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status, at which point they must still be resident;
- those EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years, after which they will be eligible to apply for settled status;
- those EU citizens who arrived after the specified date will be allowed to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period and may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances – but this group should have no expectation of guaranteed settled status;
- family dependants who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years (including where the five years falls after our exit), irrespective of the specified date. Those joining after our exit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens or alternatively to the post-exit immigration arrangements for EU citizens who arrive after the specified date;
- the ‘specified date’ will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from theEU. We expect to discuss the specified date with our European partners as part of delivering a reciprocal deal; and
- we will apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK.
7) In relation to benefits, pensions, healthcare, economic and other rights, in the expectation that these rights will be reciprocated by EU member states, the Government intends that:
- EU citizens with settled status will continue to have access to UK benefits on the same basis as a comparable UK national under domestic law;
- EU citizens arriving before the specified date who do not have five years’ residence at the time of the UK’s exit but who remain legally in the UK on a pathway to settled status will continue to be able to access the same benefits that they can access now – (broadly, equal access for workers/the self-employed and limited access for those not working). If these individuals go on to acquire settled status, they will then be able to access benefits on the same terms as comparable UK residents;
- existing rules on the rights of EU citizens and UK nationals to export UK benefits to the EU will be protected for those who are exporting such UK benefits on the specified date, including child benefit, subject to on-going entitlement to the benefit;
- the UK will continue to export and uprate the UK State Pension within the EU;
- the UK will continue to aggregate periods of relevant insurance, work or residence within the EU accrued before exit to help meet the entitlement conditions for UK contributory benefits and State Pension, even where entitlement to these rights may be exercised after exit;
- the UK will seek to protect the healthcare arrangements currently set out in EU Social Security Coordination Regulations and domestic UK law for EU citizens who arrive in the UK before the specified date and for UK nationals living in the EU before the specified date;
- the UK will also seek to protect the ability of individuals who are eligible for a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before the specified date to continue to benefit from free, or reduced cost, needs-arising healthcare while on a temporary stay in the EU. The UK will seek an ongoing arrangement akin to the EHIC scheme as part of negotiations on our future arrangements with the EU;
- the UK will ensure qualifying EU citizens who arrived in the UK before the specified date will continue to be eligible for Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) student loans and ‘home fee’ status in line with persons with settled status in the UK. Such persons will also be eligible to apply for maintenance support on the same basis they do now;
- to help provide certainty for EU students starting courses as we implement the UK’s exit (including those who are not currently living in the UK), we have already confirmed that current EU students and those starting courses at a university or FE institution in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years, will continue to be eligible for student support and home fee status for the duration of their course. We will also ensure that these students have a parallel right to remain in the UK to complete their course; and
- the UK will seek to ensure that citizens with professional qualifications obtained in the EU27 prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will continue to have those qualifications recognised in the UK (and vice versa).
8) The reciprocal agreement on citizens’ rights will apply to the entire United Kingdom, covering Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all parts of England, and Gibraltar. Decisions that are currently made by the devolved administrations and the Government of Gibraltar will continue to be made by them.
9) Obtaining documentation showing their settled status will enable EU citizens resident here to carry on living here lawfully. Moreover it will help them to demonstrate to employers and other service providers their ongoing rights to be in the UK and to enjoy entitlements to benefits and public services. It will demonstrate (to employers, for example) that the holder continues to enjoy these rights, irrespective of any different migration controls the Government may introduce with regard to newly arriving EU citizens following the UK’s departure from the EU.
10) There is no need for EU citizens to apply now for EU documentation under the free movement rules to prove they are exercising Treaty rights or have a current right of permanent residence in order to secure their status post-exit. Nor will they need to apply for their new British settled status before our exit. However, we are planning to set up an application process before we leave the EU to enable those who wish to do so to get their new status at their earliest convenience. For those who have already obtained a certificate of their permanent residence, we will seek to make sure that the application process for settled status is as streamlined as possible.
11) We will discuss similar arrangements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States) on a reciprocal basis.
12) After the UK leaves the EU, free movement will end but migration between the UK and the EU will continue. We will continue to welcome the contribution EU citizens bring to our economy and society; the UK will remain a hub for international talent. The Government is carefully considering a range of options as to how EU migration will work for new arrivals post-exit and will publish proposals as soon as possible, allowing businesses and individuals enough time to plan and prepare.
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