An agreement to protect the rights of the EU citizens living in the UK after the UK leaves the EU has been reached between the UK government and the European Union on citizen’s rights.

The agreement provides certainty to the EU citizens and their families living in the UK, after UK leaves EU on 29 March 2019. It allows the EU citizens to continue to live in the UK and to access public funds and services on the same terms as before the Brexit.

It has also been agreed that there will be an implementation period from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. EU citizens and their families arriving during the implementation period will be required to register if they wished to stay for more than 3 months. And those who will complete 5 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for settled status. Those who will not have completed 5 years will be able to apply for temporary status to stay in the UK until they have completed 5 years, at which stage they will be able to apply for settled status. Family members of those EU nationals living in the UK will be able to apply to join them even after 31 December 2020, provided their relationship existed prior to the expiry of the implementation period.

Those arriving after December 2020 will have to apply under the new immigration rules that are anticipated to be in place by then.

Consideration of applications under the new system

There will be three phases under the new system:
1. Registration system for status documents for EU nationals and their families already in the UK,
2. Registration for new arrivals during the implementation stage between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020,
3. A new immigration system for those arriving after the implementation date.

The expected date for the 1st phase above which will cater for resident EU population to go live is likely to be September 2018. The system is to remain open until 30 June 2021.

It will be mandatory for EU nationals and their families living in the UK to apply for their status document to prove their right to live and work in the UK. According to the Home Office, the application process under the new system is simplified. The fee is stated to be no more than that charged for UK passport. It will be free for those who already hold permanent residence document.

Once the settled status is acquired, it will only be lost through absence from the UK for 5 years.

If you are an EU citizen or their family member and require advice and assistance about your situation, please contact us now.