EU Citizens rights to remain in post-Brexit UK remain uncertain.

A holding statement has been posted on the “GOV.UK” with the caveat that: “full details of the scheme are still subject to approval by Parliament.”

The tone contrasts with Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, who has since said that: “The UK will ‘move swiftly’ to safeguard the future of EU citizens in the event of no deal being agreed.”

After the latest round of ongoing talks in Brussels on Tuesday (21 August 2018), Raab said in a BBC interview that the UK had a "moral obligation" to people and it was "inconceivable" they would be "turfed out."

The EU, he said, must match the UK's "ambition and pragmatism" if the gaps between them were to be overcome.  EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that a deal may be pushed back until early November – and has kept consistently to the line that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.  He went on to reinforce the European Commission’s rebuttal of ‘intransigence’ and said there must be no "blame game" played by the UK if it transpires that no-deal is the outcome of the Article 50 process.

This warning comes in the context of Barnier’s assessment of the state of play - that fundamental disagreements remain on future economic issues and the EU will not abandon its principles when it came to the integrity of the single market.

Status of EU Citizens in the UK in the event of a no-deal

Home Office advice is that: “If you’re a European Union (EU) citizen living in the UK, you and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ if you want to continue living here after June 2021”.

Irish citizens and those holding ‘indefinite leave to remain’ are not required to apply - but family members from outside the UK and Ireland are.

The scheme will be open by March 2019 with an application deadline of 30 June 2021.

We will look in more detail, below, at what the Home Office has set out as the procedure – the cost and tests for each EU citizen that elects to apply for ‘Settled Status’.

The process was drafted before the odds shifted towards a no-deal – and the timetable reflects earlier confidence that there would be a negotiated transition period.  Note that each page of the procedure carries the caveat that it is subject to Parliamentary approval.

Raab moved this week to respond to the increasing likelihood of a no-deal.  "We hugely value the contribution of EU citizens here in the UK and I am confident that in the unlikely eventuality that we don't have a deal, we will move swiftly to secure their position."

"It is inconceivable we would do anything other than make sure that they are legally in a position where they're secure to stay," he said, adding that "we are talking about real people...and we have got a moral obligation".

He added: "There's no question that we're going to see EU citizens turfed out. We've made that clear in the past. I've made that clear in the past, I'm happy to give that reassurance today."

Meanwhile, the Home Office struggles to cope with its own procedures and rules

Yesterday, 22 August 2018, it came to light that more than 1,000 children born in the UK to parents from eight EU countries have been refused British passport renewals because of a Home Office error.

Families were not asked for full documentation when they originally applied for and received UK passports.  Five years later – time to renew those passports - applications are being rejected as the families are unable to provide the old paperwork.  The Home Office said it will assist affected children to get citizenship and it "regrets any inconvenience or delay that this has caused".

Those affected are children of nationals from the eight countries that joined the EU in 2004, including Poland and the Czech Republic.  Children of nationals from those countries are automatically born a British citizen if one or both parents have the status of a ‘resident’ at the time of their birth.

Permanent residency may be applied for after a continuous five-year period of work in the UK.   The ‘Workers Registration Scheme’ (WRS) certificate was used until it was scrapped in 2011 as an unnecessary burden as we were all full members EU with free movement of people across the bloc as one of the of four pillars.

There were a number of cases illustrated by the BBC – with the consensus of feelings beginning with confusion, disbelief, frustration and bitterness.  "I feel they want to make us not welcome here anymore” said one respondent who has been working in the UK for 13 years.  Even when supplied with the WRS, the Home Office rejected an application to renew his eight-year-old son's passport.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We want there to be no doubt - if you are settled in the UK legally, any child you have in this country thereafter is British."  We note the shift in language from ‘resident’ to ‘settled’.

Current position for EU citizens living in the UK

To register as a British citizen costs £1,012 Home Office fee – and brings with it all UK rights as a ‘resident’.

Regarding the special cases referred to, above, a HO spokesman said: "This process does not require the same evidence as a passport renewal and the Home Office bears the cost.  Once that registration process is complete the child is able to make a new passport application."

‘Settled’ status means you can continue to live and work in the UK for as long as you like. It will mean you’re eligible for: public services, such as healthcare and schools; public funds and pensions; application for British citizenship – subject to meeting current requirements.

Settled Status – a summary of the draft Home Office proposals as at 23 August 2018

Settled status is what the Home Office proposes for all EU citizens that wish to remain in the UK post-Brexit but do not wish - or do not meet the requirements – to apply for British citizenship.

Eligibility for settled status is defined as: an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen; having lived in the UK continuously for 5 years, ‘continuous residence’; begun living in the UK before 31 December 2020.  Again, the caveat that “details of the scheme are still subject to approval by Parliament.”

Those living in the UK for less than 5 years may be eligible for ‘Pre-Settled’ status, instead.  This allows a stay in the UK for a further 5 years, living and working here, and with access to public funds and services on the same basis EU citizens have today as of right.

For those eligible for Settled status may apply on behalf of their children aged under 21, even if they arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020 - unless the child is already a British citizen.  Children born in the UK will automatically be a British citizen and do not need to apply for Settled status.

The scheme is planned to be fully operational by 29 March 2019 and there is a deadline for applications of 31 June 2021.

Applications will be online and will require proof and evidence of: identity; residence in the UK; relationship to a family member from the EU living in the UK if the applicant is from outside the EU. 

Applicants will be asked about any criminal history in the UK and overseas.

The fee per applicant is £65 for those over (£32.50 if under 16); and its free if the applicant: already has valid indefinite leave to remain, or a valid permanent residence document; is applying to move from pre-settled status to settled status; is a child in local authority care.

Brexit Partners

Brexit  Partners have advised a number of domestic and international organisations on dealing with the uncertainty for key staff.  The impact is already evident and spans media, culture, agriculture, food and hospitality and Financial Services.

Contact us for more information and a focused risk assessment and mitigation strategy.

John ShuttleworthComment