The EU and UK governments have published a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement report after an initial phase of negotiations.
Protecting EU citizens currently in the UK and their British counterparts throughout Europe was a main area of consideration in the report. There are roughly three million EU citizens living in the UK and around 1.2 million UK citizens living outside the UK in the EU.
Though far from complete, and not without its critics, the Withdrawal Agreement at least provides more clarity – after a leaked Brexit-related document sparked rumors back in September – into what EU nationals should expect once Brexit goes into effect at 11:00 p.m. on March 29, 2019.
Terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement
EU nationals who have been living in the UK continuously for five years leading up to the March 29, 2019 cut off date will be allowed to apply for “settled status.” Those who won’t yet reach their five years by that date will be able to apply to extend their stay until they’ve reached five years. At that point, they will be able to apply for settled status.
For anyone applying for settled status, the fee will be no more than the common cost of a UK passport, and the application process for settled status will be easy, the agreement assures EU citizens.
Transitional period for employers
There will be a buffer period of at least two years after March 29, 2019, during which EU citizens can still arrive and be free to live, work and study in the UK, according to the Withdrawal Agreement. Employers in the UK will be allotted this time to produce paperwork proving that EU national employees are legally permitted to work in the UK. For now, no action is needed on the part of employers.
The question of free movement (the right to live and work) within the UK is a big one for employers in both regions wondering about Brexit’s impact on global mobility. However, it seems that answers will have to wait until a second round of negotiations.
At this point, there is no future plan for EU citizens in the UK after the cut off date, and these terms will likely be determined during future negotiations. It may be required that this report be enacted into law before any more negotiations can take place, however.
Though the Withdrawal Agreement offers reciprocal terms for UK citizens in the EU as it does for EU citizens in the UK, questions still remain about whether UK citizens residing in the EU will have to apply for residency status.