Brexit and its future impact on EEA Nationals
Article 50 of the EU Treaty has been triggered and the UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. After that date the rights of EEA nationals in the UK will be covered by an EU
Withdrawal Agreement, the basic terms of which have been agreed in principle between the UK government and the European Commission under the Brexit negotiations.
The Withdrawal Agreement is expected to provide protection to all EEA nationals who are lawfully residing in the UK the date that the UK leaves the EU, which is scheduled for 29 March 2019 (although there may be a transition period extending this date to 31 December 2020)
The conditions of ‘lawful residence’ are the same as those under current EU law, ie workers and job seekers, the self-employed, students and economically self-sufficient persons, as well as those
who have previously acquired and retained the right of permanent residence.
The rights of existing family members who are in the UK and children born in the future will also be guaranteed irrespective of the nationality of the family member.
These EU nationals and their family members who have been lawfully residing in the UK for a five year period prior to the appointed date will be automatically granted ‘Settled Status’ upon application. but the granting of Settled Status will be subject to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and confirmation of ongoing residence.
The UK Government has assured that the application process will be streamlined and will be significantly less burdensome for the applicant than the current PR application system.
If an applicant already holds an existing Permanent Residence (PR) document, the new Settled Status documentation will be free of charge. If a PR document is not held, the fee for obtaining the Settled Status document will not exceed that imposed on British nationals for the issuing of similar documents. (For example, UK nationals currently pay approximately £70 for a British passport.)
However, unlike the present position, once Brexit has occurred, it will be compulsory for all EU citizens and their family members residing in the UK and their family members to follow these procedures and hold residence documents. Individuals will have at least two years after exit day to apply for a new status in the UK.
Unfortunately, although the UK government has outlined these future requirements, it will not be possible for anyone actually to make an application for the new Settled Status until late in 2018, because the application system has yet to be set up to receive applications.
EU nationals and their family members who have been residing in the UK for less than five years on the date of Brexit will be given the opportunity to apply for a temporary status. This temporary status will grant individuals the right to continue to live and work in the UK on the same basis as before exit, with a view to accumulating five years residence and therefore qualifying for Settled Status. This temporary status too will be granted subject to the checks outlined above for settled status.
It should be noted that family relationships which are formed after the final exit date are not protected within the Withdrawal Agreement. For example, if an EU national resides in the UK at the date of exit and subsequently meets and marries their spouse after Brexit, the future spouse will have to comply with UK immigration rules in order to come to the UK. But their children, whenever born, would have their rights protected under EU law.
Frequently Asked Questions
Up until the date when the UK actually leaves the EU, EEA citizens living in the UK are not required to apply for an official document confirming their status. Their national passport alone is
But if you have lived in the UK for less than five years and you are employed, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient, you and your family members can, if you wish, apply for a registration certificate as proof that you are residing here lawfully.
If you have completed a continuous period of five years in the UK as someone who is employed, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient you can apply for a document certifying permanent residence. Absences from the UK of up to six months per year do not break this continuous period. An absence of up to 12 months is allowed for important reasons such as pregnancy or childbirth, serious illness, study or an overseas posting.
The date on which you completed the five-year period doesn't matter as long as you have not been outside the UK for a period of more than two years after completing the five-year period.
Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for these documents – especially students and self- sufficient people who don’t have private health insurance. (Employees and self-employed people don’t need private health insurance to get a document).
Opinions amongst lawyers differ about whether to apply now or just to wait. The Home Office says that the new system will be more streamlined and easier to manage than the present system for
those who are currently entitled to permanent residence. And that people who have completed 5 years residence including a period of study or self sufficiency will not be required to show that they
held private health insurance. However for those that do have a PR card, this can be easily exchanged for a settled status card once the new system begins to operate.
And if you have a family member who is not an EEA national, they will have no choice but to obtain an EEA family permit, residence card or PR card straight away or otherwise they will not be able to prove that they currently have a right to live in the UK for the purposes of UK work, travel or study or, in many cases, access to certain services or benefits.
If you want to completely sure that you are able to stay in the UK after Brexit, and you do not wish to have to apply for the new Settled Status, you can apply to become a British citizen after
you have held permanent residence for one year.
You have to get a document certifying permanent residence before applying for British citizenship, but you don’t necessarily have to wait a year after getting the document.
If you’re thinking of applying for British citizenship, you should first apply for a permanent residence card, providing evidence that you completed the five-year qualifying period more than one year ago. If you do that, the Home Office will confirm the date when it deems you to have acquired permanent residence, so you can potentially apply for British citizenship as soon as you have your document certifying permanent residence.
Before applying, check whether your country of origin permits dual nationality and whether it will impact on your tax position. If you have any family members outside the UK who may want to join you in the UK you should take advice, because becoming British will mean that you cannot rely on EU free movement law to bring them to the UK.
If you have children born in the UK, they may already be British citizens. Children born in the UK on or after 30 April 2006 are automatically British if at least one of their parents completed
the five-year qualifying period for permanent residence before they were born.
If you completed the five-year period after they were born, you can apply to register them as British.
There are different rules for children born before 30 April 2006, and different rules again for children born before 2 October 2000.
EU citizens may be entitled to apply for British Nationality subject to having achieved Permanent Residence status in the UK.
The British Nationality requirements, however, are strict and complex.
With so much at stake for you and your future, it is important to seek legal advice early and consider options available to you based upon your specific circumstances.
This approach will avoid delays and improve your chances of making a successful application for Permanent Residence or British Nationality.
We can assist and advise EU nationals and their family members on their options to remain in the United Kingdom as the Brexit negotiations unfold.
Do you need help with your application?
Contact Pahl & Associates today!