What will Brexit mean for Europeans living in London?
The Brexit deal renegotiated between London and Brussels in October 2019 and approved by EU27 countries outlines the future rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK, as well as Britons living on the continent.
Under the deal, EU nationals in the UK and Britons in the EU – plus family members – would retain residency and social security rights after Brexit. Freedom to move and live within the EU and UK would continue during a planned transition period. People would be allowed to stay when it ends and apply for permanent residence after five years.
The UK is now due to depart the EU on January 31, 2020. These rules will be applicable if Britain leaves with a ratified agreement — but not if there is no deal. The British government has published separate advice for a “no deal” scenario and you can read our explanation here.
If however the Withdrawal Agreement is approved and you an EU citizen living in the UK, here is what you need to know:
Q:Will I be able to keep on living in the United Kingdom after January 31, 2020, the new date when the UK is due to leave the European Union?
A: Yes. Essentially the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, are protected by the agreement. If you are from the EU and have lived in the UK permanently for five years by the end of the transition period (currently December 31, 2020) then you will be able to continue to reside in the UK permanently.
A: You will still be able to acquire the right to permanent residency by completing five years living in the UK, as long as you are legally resident by the end of the transition period. This right can only be lost if you leave the country for a period of more than five years.
A: In most cases no, you will have to apply for your new residence status. Government guidelines say the deadline is 30 June 2021 — six months after the end of the transition period. Exceptions are Irish citizens and people with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
A: Yes. The government announced in January that it was scrapping plans for a fee of £65 for over-16s, £32.50 for under-16s. Its guidance to EU citizens says it’s free to apply to the scheme, and anyone who has paid to apply will get a refund.
A: The agreement says applications should still be allowed within a reasonable time period, if there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. Reuters has reported that the Conservative government plans to grant leniency only in exceptional circumstances, and EU citizens may be deported if they fail to apply on time.
A: Yes, at least your close family – partners (married, civil and unmarried), dependent children and dependent parents or grandparents. However, the agreement does say that there are conditions attached to those who are defined as close family members or partners.
A: Yes, in general, you will have the same rights to work in the UK as you have now, whether you are employed or self-employed. The agreement enshrines the principle of equal treatment between UK and EU citizens resident in each other’s territories, in areas including employment, housing and education. Professional qualifications should continue to be recognised.
A: In general, EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by the end of the transition period should still be covered.
A: Yes, during the transition period, as long as you hold a valid passport or national identity card issued by your country within the EU. After the transition period family members who want to join you in the UK may need a visa.
Q:I’m an EU citizen but I’ve never lived or worked in the UK and wish to apply after the transition period – what will be my rights?
A: This is not covered in the agreement. However, the Conservative government has made it clear it wants to reduce immigration to the UK and intends to end free movement for EU nationals as soon as possible. It has plans for a “points–based” immigration system for both EU and non-EU migrants, giving priority to those with skills.
- a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland
- another country and you have a family member who is from the EU, EEA or Switzerland
- The EEA includes EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
It is worth applying to stay in the UK now. After the UK leaves the EU you might be asked to prove your right to do things like get a job or use the NHS. You’ll be able to do this by showing you have ‘pre-settled status’ or ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme, or British citizenship.
Getting your status will prove your right to:
- stay in the UK for more than 3 months
- use the NHS
- claim the State Pension
- rent a home
- If the UK leaves the EU with no deal
- You’ll only be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if you were already living in the UK before it leaves the EU.
If you arrive in the UK after 11pm on the day it leaves the EU, you can stay until 31 December 2020. If you want to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. The government will announce more details about this scheme if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
Under the confirmed plans, any EU citizen living here by 2021 can stay forever.
Home Secretary Sajid David confirmed that any EU national here by the end of 2020 will be given five years to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
They will get a “lifetime right” to bring in their entire close family, kids, spouse, parents, grandparents – even if they are outside the EU.
They can also bring in their girlfriend or boyfriend – a “durable partner” if they can prove they have been together for two years.
London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been clear that EU citizens living in London belong and are “welcome in our great city”. He went on to say: – “Londoners, from whatever background or nationality, are resilient and resourceful, able to adapt to change and welcome new opportunities. But not all change is easy and desired, or even in our control. Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, it will have a significant impact on everyone’s lives”.
The significant impact factor will be true for those who hold passports of the other 27 European Union (EU) countries, as well as citizens of non-EU countries like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland (also known as EEA countries) and Switzerland, as well as their family members who settled here under Freedom of Movement rights.
Europeans resident in the United Kingdom (UK) under the Freedom of Movement will see their residence status change when the UK leaves the EU. The UK Government has agreed with the EU, a new status for these residents, to allow them to continue living and working in the country. This new residence status is called Settled Status, and has been referred to above in this article.
EU regulations for Freedom of Movement will no longer apply to the UK after December 2020, so the UK Government is making it compulsory for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, along with their family members, who wish to remain legally in the UK after 31 December 2020, to apply for a new residence status. This is called Settled Status and it grants Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to successful applicants.
The UK Government and the Home Office have stated that they expect the vast majority of applicants will be successful, with only very few exceptions related to convictions for serious crimes.
You will have to provide evidence that you have lived in the UK for five consecutive years (continuous residence) to be eligible for Settled Status when you apply. If you can’t, but have entered the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you may be granted pre-Settled Status. Pre-Settled Status can be changed to Settled Status once you have five years of continuous residence in the UK.
The timelines will be different in a ‘no deal’ scenario, a separate section details these differences. The remaining guidance uses the timelines proposed in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
It’s obvious that the UK after Brexit will be a very different place to live and work. However, it’s to be hoped that all those who wish to stay here find the application process smooth and are able to continue living and working in London. In my time in this great City, I’ve been privileged to work with people of every different nationality imaginable and I would very much hope that that scenario continues.