Brexit and EU Residents in the UK
What will Brexit mean?
What are the current UK Government proposals?
What steps should I take now as an employer of an EU national worker?
Following the Brexit vote last year, there was a great deal of uncertainty and scaremongering. The general advice we gave to our clients at that time was to remain calm. We reassured our clients that as long as they are exercising treaty rights, i.e. are working, self-employed, actively seeking employment, studying or self sufficient, they and their dependents including non-EU national dependents will continue to have the right to live, work and study in the UK.
We advised as a precaution that those who have not already done so, should apply for residence documents, and those with 5 years continuous residence should apply for certificates of permanent residence.
For employers of EU workers, our advice has been ‘business as usual’. Until we leave the EU, nothing changes.
So what do the government proposals mean?
On 26th June 2017, the government published a policy paper “The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU”.
In summary, the proposals are as follows:
While the UK remains a member of the European Union, EU citizens who are resident in the UK will continue to enjoy the rights they currently have under EU Treaties.
There will be a cut-off date as yet undisclosed. The cut off date will be no earlier than 29th March 2017 and no later than the date the UK leaves the EU.
EU citizens who have been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years will be allowed to stay indefinitely by getting settled status.
EU citizens who arrived in the UK before the cut off date, who haven’t been here for 5 years will be able to get permission to stay until they have accumulated 5 years, after which they will be able to apply for settled status.
EU citizens who arrive after the cut off date, will be able to apply for permission to remain after the UK leaves the EU under future immigration arrangements for EU citizens.
Note: We do not know yet what these immigration arrangements will look like
Family dependents who are living with or who joined EU citizens before the UK’s exit from the EU, will be able to apply for settled status after 5 years in the UK, irrespective of the cut off date.
When the UK leaves the EU, there will be a grace period of up to 2 years during which time residents and dependents can apply under a voluntary scheme for settled status if they have acquired 5 years continuous residence or have a temporary residence permit.
After the grace period, it will be mandatory to apply for and obtain settled status or a temporary residence permit under the new Immigration controls then in place.
This means uncertainty for those who arrive after the cut off date. Whether or not they can remain in the UK will depend on the rules in place when the grace period has ended, and we don’t yet know what these rules will look like.
So what should EU citizens in the UK do now?
The government is advising that you do not need to do anything.
Our advice is different. Why?
There is still a great deal of uncertainty
It is clear that after the UK leaves the EU, all EU citizens and their families in the UK will need to apply to the Home Office for permission to stay, regardless of the date of their arrival.
Having a residence document or a certificate of permanent residence, is likely to make any future application easier.
Furthermore, those with a certificate of permanent residence will be eligible to apply for Naturalisation once they have acquired 6 years residence in the UK, making any future applications as an EU citizen unnecessary.
How will this impact on Businesses?
The government is advising that businesses employing EU citizens do not need to do anything now.
We know from the feedback received from our business clients, that many of their EU national employees are feeling extremely insecure about their future and that there is an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. We also understand that a significant number of EU nationals are seriously considering leaving the UK. Many have already done so.
In the current political climate, knowledge and education is more crucial than ever.
We are advising our clients that they should reassure their employees and that if they have not already done so, steps should be taken to obtain residence documents and where employees have already acquired 5 years continuous residence, applications should be made for certificates of permanent residence so that they will have the documentation required to apply for naturalisation as British citizens.
We at LUPINS, will be more than happy to provide fact sheets for businesses and arrange seminars and Q&A sessions for your employees.
For more information please contact our experts: