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The UK has cast doubt on the status of EU nationals and their family coming to the UK during the Brexit transitional period post 29 March 2019.
The EU position is clear: EU citizens should be able to secure full residence rights in the UK during the Brexit transition period which they state should end on 31 December 2020.
Theresa May, however, has stated that that there should be a difference in the rights accruing to people who arrived in the UK before the expected March 2019 Brexit date and those who come afterwards:
“I’m clear there’s a difference between those people who came prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the UK is no longer a member of the EU.
“When we agreed the citizens’ rights deal in December, we did so on the basis that people who had come to the UK when we were a member of the EU had… certain expectations, they made a life choice and… it was right that we have made an agreement that ensured they could continue their life in the way they had [intended].
… for those who come after March 2019 that will be different because they will be coming to a UK that they know will be outside the EU.”
The Home Office’s web site presently states:
“If you arrive in the UK after 29 March 2019, our intention is that there will be a period of time where you can still live, work and study here, with a registration system. This ‘implementation period’, including how long it might last, is still subject to negotiations with the EU.
Details of the immigration arrangements that will apply during this period, and after it ends, have not yet been agreed. We will publish more details as soon as possible, so people have enough time to plan and prepare.”
In other words, EU nationals coming to the UK after the Brexit date can continue to exercise the equivalent of Treaty rights but, as things presently stand, whether or not they will qualify for settled status is open to negotiation.
Labour MP Peter Kyle, a supporter of Open Britain, said, “The Government says it values EU citizens who want to live in the UK, then tells them they’re not wanted. The Government tells businesses they want stability and continuity, then tells them their ability to recruit the staff they need will be hampered. Our economy must not be sacrificed on the altar of an extreme and counter-productive attitude towards immigration. If that’s what Brexit means, then everyone is entitled to keep an open mind about whether it’s the right path for the country.”
The December withdrawal agreement which was meant to settle the issue of citizens’ rights (details of which can be read here) is silent on the rights of those that arrive during a transitional period, by its nature this being the subject of separate negotiations. It would be difficult to conceive that provision will not be made for individuals arriving during the transitional period to qualify for permanent residence / settled status on broadly the same basis as EU nationals present in the UK prior to the date of Brexit. However, as appears always to be the case in Brexit matters, affected EU nationals and their family members will have uncertainty hanging over the heads and will be subject to the ping pong of conflicting counter statements by the respective parties. Ultimately, the issue will not be settled until the transitional deal itself is published.
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