The government’s latest proposals for the future of EU citizens living in this country have drawn fire from the European Parliament, which claims there are still “major issues” with the UK’s approach.
The government’s newly published ‘Technical Note’ was intended to allay the concerns of EU citizens and their families but has been criticised by the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group.
In a statement published on Wednesday, the MEPs took issue with the “administrative procedures” set out in the document, arguing that EEA nationals and their families should not be subject to additional financial costs, and that the acquisition of “settled status” should be automatic.
The government’s ‘Technical Note’ adds little to its detailed proposals published in June 2017, when it first described its post-Brexit vision for EU citizens living in the UK. However, it does contain slightly more detail on possible procedures and costs.
Key elements of the government’s proposals, some of which are new and some of which simply reiterate previous statements, are as follows:
- There will be a much simpler “streamlined”, digital process when applying for documentation
- The process will draw on information from a variety of government sources in order to reduce the documentary burden on applicants
- The fee will be “no more than a British passport” (i.e. approximately the same cost as now)
- People who already hold a document confirming their settled status (i.e. a Permanent Residence Card or a Document certifying Permanent Residence) will be required to exchange this for a settled status document in a “simple process” including a “security check and confirmation of ongoing residence”. There will be a “reduced fee” for this.
- The criteria for ‘settled status’ will be the same as for ‘permanent residence’, i.e. five years of residence as a worker, self-employed, student or someone who is self-sufficient (i.e. not working but not claiming benefits), except the last two categories will not have to demonstrate they have held comprehensive sickness insurance
- Applicants who have not yet built up five years of residence by a “specified date” will be given a temporary document allowing them to remain in the UK until they have built up the five years required for settled status
- In cases where the Home Office refuses to issue a document, there will be a right of appeal
The document does not clarify what the “specified date” or “cut-off date” will be as this has yet to be agreed with the EU. It is expected to fall at some point between 29 March 2017 and our exit from the EU.
It is important to bear in mind that the contents of the document are still nothing more than the UK government’s proposals at this time, subject to the approval of our EU partners. To date, the EU’s response to Downing Street’s post-Brexit plans has been lukewarm at best.
In effect, the procedures and plans set out in the Technical Note will only come to pass if they can be agreed with the rest of the EU. Once that happens, they will form part of the official Withdrawal Agreement, the UK’s treaty with the rest of the EU. This will eventually form part of UK law.
However, this day is still a long way off and it remains to be seen whether the EU will accept the UK government’s stance on its citizens. The response of the European Parliament suggests these proposals are likely to meet with considerable resistance and may well be amended at a later date.
If and until the Withdrawal Agreement takes effect in UK law, EU citizens and their families will remain subject to existing provisions.
Karma Hickman is an Associate Solicitor in our Immigration team.
For advice and assistance on making a visa, immigration or nationality application or for any other immigration enquiry, please contact our Immigration Team on 020 7631 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.