UK government moves to clarify rights for EU citizens

The UK government has today (7 November) offered further reassurance for EU citizens and their family members by setting out further details of how its new settled status scheme will operate.

Caseworkers considering applications will able to use their discretion where appropriate meaning those applying to stay in the UK after we leave the EU will not have their applications refused for minor technicalities. We expect the majority of cases to be granted.

EU citizens will also be given a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the Free Movement Directive, if their application is unsuccessful.

In a technical document sent to the European Commission as part of negotiations, the government reiterates how the new system will be streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly, with EU citizens consulted on its design.  

The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for negotiations and she said last month that an agreement is within touching distance.

Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis said:

“We have been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens is our top priority in negotiations. They make a huge contribution to our economy and society and we do not want to see that change as a result of our decision to leave the EU.

“We will support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status through a new straightforward, streamlined system.

“The last negotiation round saw real progress in this area and I hope  the document we have published today can facilitate the deal we need to guarantee the rights of  UK citizens living in the EU27, and vice versa." 

The document commits to:

·       Giving EU citizens plenty of time to apply, with a two-year grace period after we leave the EU to make an application for settled status.

·        Minimising the documentary evidence that applicants need to provide and enabling caseworkers to contact applicants to resolve minor issues.

·        Keeping the cost of an application to no more than that of a British passport.

·        Giving EU citizens a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the Free Movement Directive, if their application is unsuccessful.

·        Making decisions solely on the criteria set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, with no discretion for other reasons for refusal.

·        Introducing a digital, streamlined and user friendly application system

·        Not requiring EU citizens to have held comprehensive sickness insurance or to provide fingerprints.

·        A simpler, lower cost process for those who already have permanent residence documentation.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

“We have been clear that EU citizens living in the UK make an enormous contribution to our country and we want them to stay.

“Applying for settled status will be a streamlined, low-cost, digital process and EU citizens are being consulted on its design to ensure it is user-friendly.

“We know that there is some anxiety among EU citizens about how the process of applying for settled status will work so I hope this document provides some further reassurance.”

The document also sets out that applicants will be asked to declare any criminal convictions and be checked against UK security databases. This is a reasonable measure to keep the country safe from those who have committed serious crimes.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly experienced accredited journalist with many years experience of working with the EU institutions. He is an occasional contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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