A statement of intent from the UK Government as to EU citizens’ rights in the UK post Brexit

The Queen’s speech on 21 June 2017, formally announcing the government’s intention to introduce a new Immigration Bill to repeal EU law on free movement and make the migration of EU nationals and their family members subject to relevant UK law was followed by Theresa May’s announcement that the status of EU citizens currently in the UK would need to be the first issue resolved in the Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May made clear that EU citizens already in the UK – and those who arrive lawfully during a subsequent “grace period” expected to be up to two years – will be given the opportunity to build up five years’ worth of residence but also stated that all concessions made to EU citizens in the UK would only apply on the condition of reciprocation to UK citizens in the EU.

The cut-off date for the ‘grace period’ will no doubt be the object of further negotiations.EU citizens will have to apply for a ‘settled status’. This will largely be inspired by the 1971 Immigration Act, implying that EU citizens who register for the ‘settled status’ will have the same rights to work pensions to the NHS care, education and other public services as UK citizens. There will be no discrimination between EU nationals.

The EU’s demand that the European Court of Justice continues to be the guarantor of citizenship rights for EU citizens in the UK and for their descendants has however been rejected by Theresa May.

There is some comfort in May’s announcement for EU citizens in the UK but many questions remains for both individual and employers of EU citizens in the UK.

These first steps in addressing the concerns of individual EU citizens are welcome after a year of uncertainty. However, what the Queen’s speech this week made very clear is that post Brexit, freedom of movement will end. For employers who rely on a European workforce, this will make recruitment less fluid and more competitive. For EU nationals who will arrive after the cut-off date, there is still no certainty on their eligibility to apply for ‘settled status’. Self-employment status remains uncertain as well and will be on the basis of ‘seek to protect’.

For our clients looking at bringing certainty in this vital area of their business, we recommend that they consider applying for a Sponsor Licence now. Sponsor Licences are valid for four years, so could help you bridge the gap in 2019 and provide the best way for businesses to stay ahead of the Brexit people issues!

Please do contact our Immigration Law Team for advice on Permanent Residence and Registration applications or to discuss immigration audits and applications for a Sponsor Licence.

The material contained in this guide is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

© Miller Rosenfalck LLP June 2017

Please contact:

Koshi Blavo Barna

DD +44 (0)20 7553 6002

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