EU Citizens: UK Proposal on Rights

The British Government has published its opening position on the rights of EU Citizens to remain and work in the UK after Brexit in 2019.

The proposals are conditional upon reciprocal arrangements being agreed with the EU for UK citizens to live and work in the EU.  There is still much negotiating to be done and the final deal needs approval of all 28 Member States and the European parliament.  The EU’s initial response to the UK proposals is that they do not go far enough.

Meanwhile, we await the details of EU’s proposals for UK citizens in Europe.

Impact on employees

This issue is already affecting employment contracts for non-UK EU citizens working in the UK for employers with multi-country operations in Europe. Such employees are challenging clauses in their contracts that say their employment can be terminated if they lose the right to work in the UK. Employees are starting to ask employers to agree to re-deploy them to another European office if that were to happen.

Suddenly this threat exists for a whole new group of people who have never before had to think about immigration/visa rights within Europe.

What are the key UK proposals for EU Citizens’ rights to remain and work?

  • If you are granted ‘settled status’ you will have the same rights to remain and work as you have today.
  • You can apply for ‘settled status’ once you have been in the UK for 5 years.
  • If an EU citizen has been in the UK for less than 5 years at a cut-off date (not yet stated) they can stay and continue to work here and once 5 years have passed they can apply for ‘settled status’.
  • EU citizens arriving after the cut-off date can stay temporarily but will have no guarantee of any rights to remain/settled status.
  • Family members of those who have a right to ‘settled status’ and are living outside the UK will be able to return to the UK and apply for ‘settled status’ at the relevant moment.
  • There will be transitional arrangements offering ‘blanket residency permissions’ to allow time to process applications.

Actions required at this stage

  • No action is required at this stage,  not least because the UK is still a member of the EU and will be until at least March 2019.
  • Under the UK proposals,  EU citizens and their families living in the UK will need to apply for documentation confirming their ‘settled status’ by means of a “user-friendly” online application system which should be available by 2018.
  • UK businesses employing EU citizens need do nothing for now. After Brexit, UK businesses will need to ensure their workforce has the right to live and work in the UK.
  • After Brexit, EU citizens arriving to live and work in the UK will need to apply for permission to stay.