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Brexit Talks Begin With EU Nationals Plan

Brexit Talks Begin With EU Nationals Plan

Rights of EU nationals after Brexit

Negotiations are now officially underway with the European Union on the terms of the United Kingdom’s departure from the 28-nation bloc, beginning on June 19th when David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, arrived in Brussels to begin talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator. Mr Davis said the discussions had gotten off to “a promising start”, and confirmed that trade negotiations would be taking a back seat to reaching a settlement on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and for Brits living on the continent.

PM announces “settled status” proposal

Speaking in the Commons last week, Theresa May said she wants EU citizens living in the UK to stay after Brexit as she announced plans designed to put their “anxiety to rest”. The Prime Minister proposed that all EU nationals lawfully resident for at least five years will be able to apply for “settled status” and be able to bring over spouses and children. Those who come after an as-yet-unagreed date will have two years to “regularise their status” but with no guarantees. However, she said any deal on their future legal status and rights must be reciprocal and also give certainty to the 1.2m British expats living on the continent after the UK leaves the EU.

The 3m EU citizens resident in the UK will be required to apply for inclusion on a settled status register, giving them the right to live in Britain, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and to apply for British citizenship. The estimated 150,000 who have already applied for permanent residency status, will be asked to apply again. It has not yet been decided whether the residence document for settled status will be an identity card, or will simply exist as an entry on a Home Office database.

Mrs May also said:

“No families will be split up. Family dependents who join a qualifying EU citizen here before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years. After the UK has left the European Union, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals”.

Plan could hurt Brits abroad

However, campaign groups have warned that the proposal to protect the rights of EU citizens after Brexit is inadequate, and could badly damage the rights of Britons living in Europe. A paper from British in Europe and the3million says Mrs May’s offer looks to curtail citizens’ rights to pensions and to move around the EU to work. They say that, if adopted, the UK proposal could also prevent them from returning to Britain for work or retirement with their EU spouses or to have an elderly parent move in with them in Europe. However, they praised the decision to drop the requirement for “comprehensive sickness insurance” for self-sufficient people, including stay-at-home parents, carers and students.

Calls for relaxed visa system for overseas talent

Business group London First is keen for the government to introduce a visa system that allows unrestricted post-Brexit entry for talented overseas entrepreneurs and technology experts, to allow a sufficient number of overseas workers to fill jobs in industries with skill shortages, such as engineering. Its immigration manifesto also suggests that the minimum salary for incoming migrant workers should initially be lower than the current threshold for employees from outside the EU, which is set at £30,000.

The government is working on an immigration bill, which will set out its new visa plans; following its publication, the Migration Advisory Committee will be asked to provide guidance on the future regime. A Home Office spokesperson said:

“We are working across government to identify and develop options to shape our future immigration system and will ensure businesses and communities are given the opportunity to contribute their views.”

Contact our immigration law experts today

For advice on steering your organisation through Brexit, strategic planning and fulfilling your business objectives, immigration law matters for individuals or businesses, please contact our experienced immigration solicitors today on 03456 381381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.