EU Citizens in the UK: Initial Overview

Update - Joint Agreement reached on EU citizens rights - 8 December 2017

As the Prime Minister outlined in her Florence Speech, the rights of EU citizens here in the UK will be upheld by writing them into UK law, instead of reference to EU law enforced by the EU institutions, as the EU had argued for. This will be done through the Withdrawal Agreement & Implementation Bill which the Government will introduce to Parliament after we have completed negotiations on the agreement itself.

That law will be determined by UK courts, and the EU will not be able to override them by making them refer questions to the European Court of Justice. Our courts will pay due regard to EU case law as agreed at the point of exit to interpret that law as need be.

For a period of 8 years, UK courts will be able to choose to ask the ECJ for a legal view on a point of law that has not arisen before. But the decision on whether to refer to the ECJ will be for our courts and our courts alone and, having received the ECJ’s legal view, our courts will determine the case. In practical terms, the government expects this might occur for two or three cases a year. This ability will be strictly confined to those citizens’ rights as exercised under the withdrawal agreement by EU citizens settled here before we leave the EU and will not extend in any way beyond that.

The Withdrawal Agreement will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU or the UK to stay together. It will allow the spouses, children and elderly parents of those protected by the agreement, who live in a different country when the UK leaves the EU, to reunite as a family at any time in the future.

The government have agreed with the European Commission that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. The scheme will provide a transparent, smooth and streamlined process, the criteria for which will be set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, but it will incorporate appropriate criminality checks. The Prime Minister also discussed the issue of the ‘specified cut-off date’ carefully with Member States and citizens’ groups in the UK. On this basis the government have concluded that the cut-off date will be the date of our withdrawal to provide the greatest possible legal and practical certainty for those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

This agreement not only provides certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU Member State – can benefit from what they have put in and continue to benefit from existing coordination rules for future contributions. Reciprocal healthcare rights will be protected, meaning those covered by the agreement will be able to continue to receive healthcare as they do now. And in relation to European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), we have agreed to protect the rights of individuals who are in a cross-border situation at the point of our withdrawal and entitled to a UK EHIC. This includes, for example, tourists for the duration of their stay, students for the duration of their course and UK nationals resident in another Member State. We will discuss wider use of EHICs in the next phase of the negotiations.

The agreement also includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications, for example for doctors and architects.

You can read more about the agreement at the link here, and you can read the Home Secretary's open letter to EU citizens outlining more details about the agreement at the link here.

Update - More detail published for UK settled status - 7 November 2017

Today, the Government has published a technical document which has been sent to the European Commission as part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. This document sets out further details to offer further reassurance to EU citizens and their families by providing detail on how the UK's new settled status scheme will work.

The document commits to:

  • giving EU citizens plenty of time to apply, with a 2-year grace period after we leave the EU to make an application for settled status
  • minimising the documentary evidence that applicants need to provide and enabling caseworkers to contact applicants to resolve minor issues
  • keeping the cost of an application to no more than that of a British passport
  • giving EU citizens a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the Free Movement Directive, if their application is unsuccessful
  • making decisions solely on the criteria set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, with no discretion for other reasons for refusal
  • introducing a digital, streamlined and user friendly application system
  • not requiring EU citizens to have held comprehensive sickness insurance or to provide fingerprints
  • a simpler, lower cost process for those who already have permanent residence documentation

The Prime Minister is continuing to impress upon the EU the importance of safeguarding these rights and this issue continues to be her top priority as the UK negotiates our exit from the EU.

To read more about this on the Home Office website, please follow the link here.

Update: Prime Minister's Open Letter to EU Citizens in the UK - 19 October 2017

Today, the Prime Minister published an open letter to all EU citizens currently residing in the UK. The letter outlines the Prime Minister's commitment to securing the future arrangement for rights to residency as soon as possible and outlines her commitment to finalise this agreement with the other EU Member states. You can read the full text of the letter below:

As I travel to Brussels today, I know that many people will be looking to us – the leaders of the 28 nations in the European Union – to demonstrate we are putting people first.

I have been clear throughout this process that citizens’ rights are my first priority. And I know my fellow leaders have the same objective: to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU. I want to give reassurance that this issue remains a priority, that we are united on the key principles, and that the focus over the weeks to come will be delivering an agreement that works for people here in the UK, and people in the EU.

When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth. EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.

But this agreement will not only provide certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they’ve put in. It will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU and UK to stay together. And it will provide guarantees that the rights of those UK nationals currently living in the EU, and EU citizens currently living in the UK, will not diverge over time.

What that leaves us with is a small number of important points to finalise. That is to be expected at this point in negotiations. We are in touching distance of agreement. I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals for finalising the agreement with an open mind. And with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.

I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented. People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way. We will keep the cost as low as possible – no more than the cost of a UK passport. The criteria applied will be simple, transparent and strictly in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. People applying will not have to account for every trip they have taken in and out of the UK and will no longer have to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance as they currently have to under EU rules. And importantly, for any EU citizen who holds Permanent Residence under the old scheme, there will be a simple process put in place to swap their current status for UK settled status.

To keep development of the system on track, the government is also setting up a User Group that will include representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical and legal experts. This group will meet regularly, ensuring the process is transparent and responds properly to users’ needs. And we recognise that British nationals living in the EU27 will be similarly concerned about potential changes to processes after the UK leaves the EU. We have repeatedly flagged these issues during the negotiations. And we are keen to work closely with EU member states to ensure their processes are equally streamlined.

We want people to stay and we want families to stay together. We hugely value the contributions that EU nationals make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the UK. And I know that member states value equally UK nationals living in their communities. I hope that these reassurances, alongside those made by both the UK and the European Commission last week, will provide further helpful certainty to the four million people who were understandably anxious about what Brexit would mean for their futures.


Government's Policy Proposal for safeguarding the rights of our EU citizens

Since the EU referendum result, I have received a steady stream of correspondence from worried constituents about how the upcoming negotiation period will affect their right to reside in the UK.

I absolutely agree that the protection of the rights of EU nationals currently in the UK is so important, especially in South Cambs where they contribute so much to our local economy. I have repeatedly urged the Prime Minister to place these assurances at the top of the priority list as we enter into the negotiation period.

Finally, now Article 50 has been triggered and the EU has agree to start the dialogue on this most important of issues, we are starting to see the policy proposals from the Prime Minister. You can read the Prime Minister's full statement to the House of Commons on Monday 26 June 2017 on my webpage here but I have summarised the really key points for you below. I have also attached a fact sheet to this webpage which was circulated by the Brexit Secretary of State and which outlines further information.

  • Any EU citizen in the UK with five years’ continuous residence at the specified cut-off date will be granted settled status.
  • After the UK has left the EU, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring any further family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals.
  • The specified cut-off date will be the subject of discussions but it will be no earlier that the date we triggered Article 50 (29 March 2017) and no later than the date we leave the EU (April 2019).
  • There will also be a period of 2 years after the end of the Brexit negotiations to allow people to regularise their status.
  • The system of registration to confirm EU citizens will be as streamlined and light touch as possible.
  • The government have outlined their commitment to remove some of the technical requirements currently needed e.g. Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

This is only the first stage of the negotiation process but I do believe the Prime Minister is working hard to ensure the certainty that our EU citizens need. We expect the new user-friendly application system to be up and running in 2018 but in the meantime, you might wish to visit the Home Office's webpage linked below which contains all the information and guidance about the situation. You can also sign up for email alerts for any developments as and when they occur:

I will also update my webpage as and when any new statement or update is made in the House.

Guidance on applying for permanent right to reside in the UK

EU nationals can apply for documentation to confirm their right to reside in the UK. You may also be eligible as the partner, child or family member of someone from the EU or Switzerland. You will usually be eligible for a:

You do not need either document to live in the UK if you:

  • Are a ‘qualified’ person (i.e. you are working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work)
  • Have a family member who is a qualified person
  • Have a retained right of residence

But it is important to note that having one of these documents can make it easier to claim certain benefits and services, and to prove that you have a right to live in the UK.

Applying for a Registration Certificate

  1. You can apply for a registration certificate as an EU citizen, or as a qualified person. You will be asked to complete a form, and submit this (either online, by post or in person) along with your supporting documents, and a payment for the £65 fee.
    1. Supporting documentation will vary for each type of qualified person but it could include proof of employment, proof of financial resources or proof of enrolment on a course of study. You can find further information in the guidance notes.
  2. You are also able to add a close, or extended family member to your application as a qualified person.
    1. Close family members could include a spouse or partner, or your child or grandchild (who are under 21, and are dependent), or dependent parents or grandparents.
    2. Extended family members could include the qualified person’s, or their spouse’s or partner’s brother or sister, cousin, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, relative from a different generation, or relative by marriage.
    3. You can find further detail about applying as an extended family member in these guidance notes.
    4. Please do be aware that applications and supporting documents for close or extended family members can differ for each type of qualified person and you can read the full guidance about this by following the link here. There will also be an additional fee of £65 for each additional applicant.

Applying for permanent residence after 5 years

You will automatically have permanent residence status if you have lived in the UK for 5 years as a qualified person. You do not need a document to get permanent right to reside but you are able to apply for one in you want to prove that you have this right or apply for British citizenship.

You can apply online, or by post by completing this form and submitting this along with your supporting documents and £65 fee.

Supporting documents could include your passport, 2 passport-sized photographs, evidence that you have been living in the UK (e.g. gas, electricity bills), and evidence that you have been working or studying in the UK (e.g. payslips, P60 forms or bank statements). You are also able to add close or extended family members to your application. Please do read the full guidance notes for further information.

Applying for permanent residence before 5 years

You can automatically get permanent residence status in less than 5 years in certain situations including:

  • If you have to stop working permanently (‘permanent incapacity’) because of an accident or illness and your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen.
  • A work-related accident or illness that means you are entitled to a UK pension.
  • If you have lived continuously in the UK for 2 years and have to stop working or being self-employed because of an accident or illness.
  • If you have lived continuously in the UK for 3 years, you get permanent residence when you:
    • Reach State Pension Age (you must have been self-employed, or worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand).
    • Retire early (you must have worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand).
    • Start work or self-employment in Switzerland or another EU country. In this case, you must usually return to your UK home once a week, and have worked or been self-employed in the UK for 3 years continuously beforehand.

You can find full details and information on the Home Office website by following the link here. The Home Office have also created a webpage about what you need to know with regard to the status of EU Citizens which you can access here and sign up for alerts here.


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Rights of EU Citizens in the UK - Policy Fact Sheet 516.4 KB