Brexit update - UK’s offer on status of EU nationals
FOR THE BENEFIT of our many EU-national colleagues, here's an update on what's happening with the won't-uncertain status of those who have a passport from another EU member state and are hoping still to live and work in the UK post-Brexit.
The Home Office has published its "policy" document on the status of EU nationals. These will have to apply for "settled status" in the UK, and will be issued with a special ID card. This settled status appears to be very similar to the permanent leave to remain that non-EU nationals have had conferred on them in the past.
EU nationals who've been in the UK for five years will be eligible. They will have a grace period of two years after the date the UK formally leaves the EU to gain that status.
Those who arrived in the UK before the "cut-off date" (which will almost certainly not be earlier than 29 March 2017) will get automatic temporary residence up to the point when they've been here five years and can apply for settled status.
The Home Office document promises the procedure to get permanent residence under the settled status scheme will be "straightforward" - possibly in response to the European Parliament's comments on the "bureaucractic wall currently facing EU nationals trying to prove their status. It seems those who've applied for Permanent Residence may have to apply all over again via this new "straightforward" procedure.
It is promised that HMRC and Department of Work and Pensions data can be got at easily on behalf of those applying for settled status, so applicants won't have to go through the hassle and expense of finding all those documents they never thought they'd have to keep.
The demand that EU nationals somehow come up with evidence of health insurance that they've never needed seems to have disappeared.
Settled status EU nationals can bring in partners, although there's an apparent £18,600 income threshold. They will also lose their right to vote in local elections and the protection of the European Court of Justice. Their rights to the UK's comparatively derisory benefits and pensions are guaranteed, paid in either the UK or the state of which they are a national.
Continuing rights to healthcare and the continued recognition of EU professional qualifications in the UK are in an alarmingly vague "seek to ensure continuity" category.
Needless to say, this is all subject to negotiation by the EU, which is collectively unimpressed: see the Commission's position paper on this.
The European Parliament is already threatening to veto the final UK-EU exit deal over the issue of EU citizens' rights. The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier stated in a tweet: "More ambition, clarity and guarantees needed than in today's UK position." Constitutional lawyer Christopher McCrudden has described the UK's offer as "an early deal breaker". The UK can do better. Write to your MP and your MEP now, whatever your own status.
- The West London-based Eastern European Resource Centre is running workshops and has advice particularly for Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian speakers who are EU nationals in the UK.