Agreement on the Rights of EU and UK Citizens Post Brexit Reached
The negotiators of the EU and the UK governments have released a joint report on the progress made during the first phase of the negotiations under Article 50 on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. This report contains the clearest outline of the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the reciprocal rights of UK citizens in the European Union to date and provides clarity on various issues.
The joint report outlines an agreement in principle on, amongst other issues, the rights of EU and UK nationals who are exercising their Treaty rights in a host country.
There are a number of key points outlined in the report. The headlines are:
- The cut-off date. Agreement in principle that the cut-off date will be the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, which is expected to take place on March 29, 2019.
- Settled status. Those who already have a permanent residence document will have this converted into a new ‘settled status’ document for free, subject to additional checks.
- The right to stay. EU nationals and their family members residing in the United Kingdom before the cut-off date will have the right to stay. UK citizens and their family members residing in the European Union enjoy reciprocal rights if they are resident in the host state before the cut-off date.
- Permanent residency/settled status. Those who have resided in the host country for five continuous years before the cut-off date will acquire permanent residency/settled status. Temporary residence will be given to those who have been in the relevant country for less than five years and therefore do not qualify for permanent residence.
- Administrative procedures to prove residency rights. As expected, a document evidencing residence rights must be obtained. The application process is to be smooth, transparent and streamlined.
- Family member provisions. Provisions to protect the family members of EU/UK nationals who are not in the host country on the cut-off date have been established:
- Provided the EU national is exercising rights in the United Kingdom, at the point the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, their family members will be able to join them provided certain conditions are met. For partners/spouses etc., this requires demonstrating that the couple is in a durable relationship, e.g. proof that they are maintaining contact, length of relationship, etc.
- Reciprocal arrangements will be put in place for family members of UK nationals who are residing in the European Union at the point the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
- The role of UK and European courts. UK courts will preside over enforcing the rights of EU citizens in Britain but will refer unclear cases to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). A mechanism to refer cases to the ECJ will be set up within eight years.
The report increases certainty for foreign nationals, with confirmation that EU nationals will be able to remain in the United Kingdom after Brexit. This includes their family members, as well as those family members who are not resident in the United Kingdom or an EU Member State by the cut-off date.