EEA Retained Right of Residence

What is EEA Retained Rights of Residence?

 

The European Economic Area Family Permit (EEA Family Permit) allows persons who:

  • are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and
  • are family members (or extended family members) of an EEA or a Swiss citizen

to come to the United Kingdom. [1]

The EEA permit is free to apply for and makes it not only easier but quicker to enter the United Kingdom. Without one it is possible that your entry to the country may be refused. The EEA permit is valid for a period of six months and you will be able to leave and return to the U.K. as many times as you wish within this period.[2]

However when your EEA permit expires, you may be still able to remain in the U.K. One of the ways that someone may be eligible for an EEA Family Permit is with a Retained Right of Residence which gives you the right to remain in the United Kingdom even if your EEA national family member dies, leaves the U.K. or is no longer your spouse or partner. The Retained Right of Residence will not only confirm your right of residence in the United Kingdom but it will render it easier for you to prove your eligibility to continue living and working in the U.K.[3]

 

Why would you need Retained Rights of Residence?

Firstly in order to qualify for applying for the Retained Rights of Residence, you must first have had the right to reside in the U.K. as a family member of an EEA national.[4]In addition, the latter should have:

  • the right of permanent residence in the U.K. or
  • be a qualified person in the U.K. A qualified person may be a worker; a self-employed person; a student; someone who is looking for a job, or a self-sufficient individual.[5]

You may need the Retained Rights of Residence if:

  1. the EEA national family member on whom your EEA family permit was based dies and you had lived in the United Kingdom for at least a year before their death[6]
  2. your marriage or civil partnership to the EEA national family member comes to an end through divorce (for marriages), dissolution (for civil partnerships) and nullity (for marriages or civil partners). The termination of the relationship is determined based on the date that these official documents are issued. It is very important that the relationship should have been terminated on a date after 30thApril 2006. If it was terminated before then sadly you will not be able to retain your right of residence. In addition, the marriage or the civil partnership must have lasted for at least three years before the official proceedings of separation commenced. Also you should have lived in the U.K. for at least one year as a married couple or partners.[7]

It should be noted, that for you to be able to retain your right of residence, the ex-husband or partner must continue having a permanent residence right or exercising his or her free movement rights. However, if your relationship has not officially ended and the EEA national sponsor stops being a qualified person or loses the right of permanent residence, you will lose your residence permit as well.[8]

Finally, your right of residence in the U.K. may be warranted due to particularly difficult situations, for example if you or another family member were victims of domestic violence while your marriage or civil partnership was still ongoing.[9]

  1. the EEA national family member leaves the U.K.[10]
  2. you are the child of the EEA national family member who left or died, or of their spouse or civil partner and you were in school or university when he left or died and continue to be education.[11]
  3. you are the parent or have the custody of a child who has a Retained Right of Residence because they are still in school. As a parent, you will be able to retain the right of resident for as long as the child retains its own right or until the child reaches the age of 21 or until you no longer have custody of the child or if, finally, you gain the permanent residence permit. Regarding the requirement of the child reaching the age of 21, there can be an exception if the child still requires its parent in order to complete its education.[12]

 

In any case, a very significant requirement for you to be to retain the right of residence is that you must be undertaking similar activities to the sponsor. That means that you should be a worker, self-employed or self-sufficient, and remain as such in order to qualify for the permanent resident right.[13]

 

How does one apply Retained Rights of Residence?

In order to apply for the Retained Rights of Residence, you need the following[14]:

  • a valid passport.
  • two colour photographs (passport size).
  • proof of your relationship with your EEA national sponsor. For instance, this could be a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a civil partnership certificate or, if unmarried, proof that you have been living together for two years.
  • evidence proving your family member’s identity and nationality. This could be an identity card, a passport or a  previous residence permit card.
  • evidence that you EEA family member is a qualified person or has a permanent residence. As previously noted, to constitute a ‘qualified person’, the individual needs to be a worker, self-employed, a job seeker or else self-sufficient. [15]

 

You must also provide proofs of the following, but ONLY if they are relevant for your application[16]:

  • of the termination of your marriage or civil partnership to the EEA national by providing your divorce or annulment certificate.
  • of the death of your EEA family member by providing a death certificate.
  • of the departure of your EEA family member from the U.K.
  • of the fact that either you or the child whom you have the custody of were in school when the EEA family member died or left the U.K. and are continuing your education. You will need to provide a letter from the school or university.
  • of the custody of your child or of the child of a family member by providing a court order.
  • of being a victim of domestic violence by proving a social services report or injunction [17].

 

Please note that in case that any of the required documents are not in English or in Welsh, you need to provide a certified translation of these.

You can find a more detailed guide to the necessary supporting documents here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/261446/eea-family-permit.pdf

 

In order to apply for the Retained Rights of Residence, you need to follow the usual EEA Family Permit Process.

 

What are some notable cases?

A very significant case on the topic of the Retained Rights of Residence is Singh and Other (2015), which concerned three individuals who resided in Ireland as family members of E.U. (EEA) spouses who were exercising their free movement of people rights.  The main question for the CJ. was what would be the position of the non-E.U. family member who got a divorce that preceded the departure of the spouse from the E.U. (EEA) state.[18]The CJEU decided that the right of the non-E.U. citizens to live in the E.U. (EEA) state stemmed from the fact that their spouses or partners were exercising their free movement rights.[19]So it was implicit that the right of residence could only be retained if the E.U. national spouse or partner resided in the host Member State on the date that the divorce proceeding started. [20]

Another significant case pertaining to Retained Rights by non-EEA citizens is OA (EEA- Retained Rights of Residence) Nigeria. The claimant initially entered the U.K. by requesting asylum going on to marry a French national one year later, subsequently applying for a residence permit as the spouse of an EEA national. In 2003, she was granted this permit and, in 2008, she applied for a permanent residence card while stating in her application that her spouse had left the conjugal home and that she had initiated divorce proceedings.[21]The CJEU decided that the non-EEA applicant must demonstrate that their EEA-national ex-spouses had exercised their treaty rights for five years in order for them to qualify for a permanent residence themselves. [22]

As is evident from the cases shown above, the Retained Rights of Residence is inextricably linked to European Union law. Most cases deal with divorced couples and the protection available to the non-EEA spouse. Unfortunately, such protection is not provided to non-married couples, and if you belong to this category you would be advised to seek advice from an experienced solicitor who may be able to suggest alternative legal options for obtaining the permanent residence card.

 

 

 

 Works Cited

[1]Gov.uk, ‘Apply for an EEA family permit from outside the UK’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <https://www.gov.uk/family-permit> accessed 5 May 2018.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Gov.uk, ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <https://www.gov.uk/family-permit/retained-rights-of-residence> accessed 5 May 2018.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Ibid.

[7]Home Office, ‘Free Movement of Rights: retained rights of residence ‘ (Home Office , 7 February 2017) <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590102/Family-members-of-EEA-nationals-who-have-retained-the-right-of-residence-v3_0.pdf> accessed 5 May 2018.

[8]Ibid.

[9]Ibid.

[10]Gov.uk, ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <https://www.gov.uk/family-permit/retained-rights-of-residence> accessed 5 May 2018.

[11]Ibid.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Home Office, ‘Free Movement of Rights: retained rights of residence ‘ (Home Office , 7 February 2017) <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590102/Family-members-of-EEA-nationals-who-have-retained-the-right-of-residence-v3_0.pdf> accessed 5 May 2018.

[14]Gov.uk, ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <https://www.gov.uk/family-permit/retained-rights-of-residence> accessed 5 May 2018.

[15]Ibid.

[16]Ibid.

[17]Ibid.

[18]Case C-218/14 Singe and Others v Minister of Justice and Equality [2015]

[19]Ibid.

[20]Ibid.

[21]OA (EEA – retained right of residence) Nigeria [2010] UKAIT 00003

 

[22]Ibid.

EU Nationals in the UK

EU Nationals in the UK

In the wake of the Brexit referendum, in June 2016, in which the 51,9% of the electorate decided that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, the 2.37 million E.U nationals living and working in the U.K found themselves in a position of high uncertainty. This was the first time, since the establishment of the Union citizenship in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, that the nationals of an E.U Member State residing in another E.U Member State, started wondering about their legal position and what to do in order to ensure their right to stay in the U.K.

At the time of writing this article- November 2017- the U.K has already triggered Article 50 TFEU which serves as an exit clause for the Member States which wish to withdraw for the European Union. More specifically, this article indicates that the respective Member State should notify the European Council of its intention to leave and start negotiations that will result in a withdrawal agreement with the Union within two years.

Even though the negotiations have already started and the U.K is expected to leave the European Union by March 2019, no final decision has been reached regarding the position of European Union nationals, living and working in the U.K, in the post Brexit era. However, despite of this uncertainty, until the negotiations are completed, the rights of the E.U in the U.K remain the same as they have been for the last 25 years. The Treaty of Maastricht, established for the very first time the concept of the European citizenship which is guaranteed to “every person holding the nationality of a Member State” and paved the way for the creation and development of one of the most fundamental E.U rights, “to move and reside freely within the territory of the States”.

In order, for the right of the free movement of people to be exercised as effective and efficiently as possible, the Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of the citizens of the Union and their family members to reside and move freely within the territory of the European Union, was adopted in 2004 and classified the free movement of E.U nationals into three chronological categories; right of residence for up to three months, right of residence for up to five years and right of permanent residence.

First of all, according to Art. 6 Directive 2004/38/EC, Union citizens wishing to reside on the territory of another Member State for a period of three months or less, have the right to do so without any conditions or formalities applying, other than the requirement of holding a valid passport or identification card. In practice, this means that in case an individual who is a national of any of the other 27 E.U Member States, wishes to move in and reside in the U.K for up to three months, will be able to do so by having either an I.D or a passport, of an E.U Member State, that is still in force.

In case that an EU citizen wishes to stay for a period more than three months, he will be able to do so either by being a worker or self-employed in that Member State or by having sufficient resources and a comprehensive sickness insurance that will ensure that will not become a burden on the host Member State’s social assistance system. The right of moving and residing freely with the EU territory for more than three months, extends also to EU citizens who are either enrolled to a public or private institution, accredited by the host Member State, to follow a course of study or are undertaking a vocation training, and the same time have both a sickness insurance cover and sufficient resources in order “not to become a burden on the social assistance system…during their period of residence”. As it is understandable, Art. 7 Directive 2004/38/EC is trying to ensure the free movement of people for as many different groups as possible and for this reason is providing some exceptions where a Union citizen who is no longer a worker or self-employed can retain his status.

For instance, when a European Union citizen is temporarily unable to work due to a sickness or accident, or when he is a registered job -seeker who had been employed for more than one but he is in duly involuntary unemployment at the time being, he has still the right to reside in the respective host EU state. It should also be noted, that in case that an EU national intends to reside in a host EU country for more than three months, he will have to register to the relevant authorities within, at the very least, 3 months from the date of arrival. So, when applied in the case of the U.K, the E.U nationals have the right to reside in the U.K for a period longer than 3 months as longs as they can prove that they have a job that secures them an income in order to sustain themselves or have sufficient financial resources in case that are not employed.

In addition, students, trainees are entitled to the same rights while at the same time unemployed E.U nationals can retain their status as long as they fulfill the requirements of Art. 7 Directive 2004/38/EC. In any case, applying for a National Insurance Number is a mandatory requirement for all E.U citizens moving in the U.K to either work or study and reside for more than three months. Finally, in case, that an EU national has been residing in the UK for a continuous period of more than five years then he has the right of the permanent residence.

Temporary absences of maximum six months per years or maximum 12 months for important reasons such as compulsory military service, serious illness or pregnancy, do not affect the continuity of residence. However, it should be noted that the permanent residence after acquired, can only be lost if the EU national is absent from the UK for more than two consecutive years.

Furthermore, when a E.U citizen applies for a permanent residence, the U.K shall certify permanent residence after verifying the duration of residence and issue the relevant document as soon as possible. It should also be noted that the rights of moving and residing freely within the EU, apply to the third country nationals who are family members, of the EU nationals residing in the host Member State. These family members can be, according to Directive 2004/38/EC, the spouse, the partner, the dependent direct relatives and the direct descendants who are under 21 years old or the dependents of the EU national himself or of his spouse or partner.

Due to the fact, that as it was already mentioned, the negotiations between the U.K and the E.U officials regarding the status of the EU nationals residing and working in the UK, are still ongoing, the UK government has announced that for the time being and until the UK officially leaves the EU, there is no need for the EU nationals to do anything. But what we know for sure, so far, is that the permanent residence status will be still offered to the EU nationals who have been living in the UK for five years continuously and will enable them to live indefinitely and freely in the UK as well have access to public funds and services, by providing them with the “settled status”.

In addition, these EU nationals will be able to apply for the British citizenship if they wish to do so. In the case, of George Papadakis, for instance, a Greek who have been residing and working in London since 2008, he will still be able to exercise his free movement rights after the UK leaves the EU on April 1st 2019. Since he has been living and working in England for more than five years, he is automatically entitled to get the settled status under the new UK immigration scheme.

When he will receive both the settled status and respective document verifying this, he will have secured his immigration status and there is nothing else that he will be required to do after the UK leaves the EU. Although there is no need to apply automatically for the settled status, as a grace period will be provided, he will still have to request a permission to stay from the Home Office before the grace periods expires.
For the rest EU nationals, their status will depend on the determination of the cut-off date, which will be decided by the negotiators, with the earliest being the date when Art. 50 TFEU was triggered and the latest the date that the UK will officially exit the EU.

More specifically, the EU nationals who moved in the UK before the cut-off date but by the time the UK leaves the EU, in March 2019, have not lived in the country for five years, will be able to apply for the settled status as soon as they reach the five-year threshold. Katarzyna, originally from a small town near Warsaw, has been living and working as a legal advisor in London for a year now, and will have been a UK resident for 2,5 years by the time the UK leaves the EU. In this case, since she arrived in the UK before the cut-off date, she will be able to continue residing and working in the UK during the grace period of blanket permission.

In case that before the end of the grace period she will have been living in the UK for five years, then she will be able to also reside permanently in the UK by applying for the settled status. If however, she will not have lived in the UK for five years by the end of the grace period, then she will have to apply to the Home Office for temporary residence permit, which will allow her to reside and work freely, until she meets the five year threshold. As soon as she has been a resident for five years, she will then be able to apply for settled status as well.

The EU nationals, on the other hand, who arrived in the UK after the cut-off date will have to apply for a permission to continue residing in the UK according to the future immigration policies regarding EU nationals. This means that in this case, the free movement rights will end at the moment that the UK leaves the EU in April 2019. Even though these EU nationals will be able to continue residing within the EU during the grace period, they will have to apply for a permission to stay after the end of that period and in case that the application is successful they will be granted a temporary residence permit.

However, after this permit expires, these EU nationals will have to obtain a subsequent permission which will depend on the immigration rules enforceable at that time and will again have a temporary nature. In the case of the family dependents residing or joining their EU national relatives, the cut-off date will not be applicable and will be able to apply for settled status after five years of continuous living in the UK.

Thus, based on the current information provided by the UK government regarding the new immigration scheme, it is totally understandable for the EU national residing and working in the UK to feel uncertain about what will be their legal status in the near future and how it will affect their lives. However, it is very possible based on the government offers announced so far that a big percentage of the overall EU nationals will be granted the settled statues and the permit to continue residing permanently in the UK. In any case, in order to have a clear picture of what the future holds for the EU nationals, we will have to wait until the completion of the ongoing negotiations.

The good news is that due the fact that the UK will have to leave the Union, at the very latest, by end of March 2019, the anticipation for the EU nationals is almost over.

The Prime Minister’s Open Letter to EU citizens in the UK

Ahead of EU Council, Theresa May wrote directly to EU citizens in the UK.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Theresa May MP Part of: Brexit Published:19 October 2017
Last updated: 19 October 2017,

As I travel to Brussels today, I know that many people will be looking to us – the leaders of the 28 nations in the European Union – to demonstrate we are putting people first.

I have been clear throughout this process that citizens’ rights are my first priority. And I know my fellow leaders have the same objective: to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU. I want to give reassurance that this issue remains a priority, that we are united on the key principles, and that the focus over the weeks to come will be delivering an agreement that works for people here in the UK, and people in the EU.

When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth. EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.

But this agreement will not only provide certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they’ve put in. It will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU and UK to stay together. And it will provide guarantees that the rights of those UK nationals currently living in the EU, and EU citizens currently living in the UK, will not diverge over time.

What that leaves us with is a small number of important points to finalise. That is to be expected at this point in negotiations. We are in touching distance of agreement. I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals for finalising the agreement with an open mind. And with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.

I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented. People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way. We will keep the cost as low as possible – no more than the cost of a UK passport. The criteria applied will be simple, transparent and strictly in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. People applying will not have to account for every trip they have taken in and out of the UK and will no longer have to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance as they currently have to under EU rules. And importantly, for any EU citizen who holds Permanent Residence under the old scheme, there will be a simple process put in place to swap their current status for UK settled status.

To keep development of the system on track, the government is also setting up a User Group that will include representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical and legal experts. This group will meet regularly, ensuring the process is transparent and responds properly to users’ needs. And we recognise that British nationals living in the EU27 will be similarly concerned about potential changes to processes after the UK leaves the EU. We have repeatedly flagged these issues during the negotiations. And we are keen to work closely with EU member states to ensure their processes are equally streamlined.

We want people to stay and we want families to stay together. We hugely value the contributions that EU nationals make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the UK. And I know that member states value equally UK nationals living in their communities. I hope that these reassurances, alongside those made by both the UK and the European Commission last week, will provide further helpful certainty to the four million people who were understandably anxious about what Brexit would mean for their futures.

###

Talley and Barrow assists EU Citizens to become British Permanent Residents and British Citizens.  Call us today for a consultation.

Talley and Barrow, LLP
5 Chancery Lane, London,
United Kingdom WC2A 1LG
Phone: +44 (0)2078594274
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Change and Concern for UK Student Visas and Migration

Change and Concern for UK Student Visas and Migration

The UK government under Theresa May has made changes in recent years to student visa rules as part of a wider strategy to reduce immigration within the UK. Theresa May has been extensively criticized for including international students in immigration figures. Brexit and the planned new immigration strategy for the UK, as part of the Brexit deal, is also likely to affect both EU and Non-EU students considering studying in the UK.

What are the UK visa criteria for International or Non-EU students?

Non-EU International students must meet certain criteria to study in the UK and must obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

To apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa you must:

  • have been offered a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • be able to speak, read, write and understand English
  • be able to support yourself financially, and pay for your course
  • be from a non-EEA country or Switzerland
  • apply no sooner than 3 months prior to the start of your course

Tier 4 Student Visas are usually decided quickly, often within 3 weeks, and currently cost £335.  There are additional fees for dependents, and a healthcare surcharge for you, and any dependents. There are rules about dependents, the type of course, the institution you are studying with, work and access to public services.

After you graduate, if you are considering taking a permanent job in the UK, to do so you would need to move to a Tier 2 Visa with an eligible employer and role.

What are the criteria for EU citizens wanting to study in the UK

EU citizens are currently free to study in the UK with the same criteria as other EU citizens visiting, working and living in Britain. They can take advantage of a cap on tuition fees, and tuition fee loans in the same way as UK students. Non-EU students do not have these advantages.

In April 2017, the government confirmed EU students applying for university places in the 2018-2019 academic year will remain eligible for financial support. The financial support comes in terms of the fee caps, loans, and grants available and would be valid for the period of study even if that continues, and ends, after the Brexit break. There are certain criteria for eligibility to financial benefits, depending on the length of time students have lived in either the UK or EEA.

What happens for potential EU students after the 2018-2019 intake remains to be decided. Students beginning their studies after the 2018-2019 period may be subject to the post-Brexit immigration changes, and policy, which have yet to be created.

What do the statistics say? Originating countries of students studying in the UK.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency’s latest figures on International student statistics were released in January 2017 for the year 2015-2016. The complete figures can be found here:

https://institutions.ukcisa.org.uk/Info-for-universities-colleges–schools/Policy-research–statistics/Research–statistics/International-students-in-UK-HE/#International-(non-UK)-students-in-UK-HE-in-2015-16

Of the figures, in the order greatest first, the top ten EU sending countries were: Germany, France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and lastly Poland. For non-EU students, again greatest first, the top ten reads: China, Malaysia, the USA, India, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and Canada.

Britain has always been a first choice for many international students, however less welcoming government policies, Brexit, and the threat of stricter immigration rules means that many students are looking elsewhere. America, Canada and Australia are popular destinations. Though the USA is falling in popularity under the Donald Trump presidency.

By December 2015 the number of non-EU student arrivals had fallen to a nine-year low of 167,000.  Thought provokingly, the estimated figures are that international students add £7 billion per year to the UK economy. Not to mention the benefits to UK industry of attracting the world’s top talent within reach of employer’s skill shortages.

UK PM Theresa May draws criticism as actual figures for student visa over stayers are released.

Theresa May has been determined to include foreign students in the government immigration figures and planned reductions. The UK government, in explaining the reasoning behind this, seems to have overestimated the number of students who illegally overstay their student visas. Estimates for years prior to 2016 were close to 100,000. Actual figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 2016 showed that just 4,600 students overstayed their visas.

Those opposing Theresa May believe students should be excluded from the immigration figures and targets, as most return home after studying. They also believe the benefits of international students, both whilst they are studying and when they reach industry, whether in the UK or not, far outweigh any concerns.

Some wonder if the damage to the UK economy and its universities has been done as total immigration figures post Brexit have halved.

Should applicants expect problems in obtaining a student visa in the UK?

Generally, the UK application and visa process is known to be a positive experience. Conversely, there have been recent reports of International students finding their UK student visa application problematic.

Study International broke a story on September 5th of unexpected visa delays for students from Hong Kong. Actual figures are undetermined but comments from lawyers and the British consulate in Hong Kong indicate hundreds of students may have been affected by late granting of their visas. Though UK universities have been accommodating, some students missed important first classes.

Find the full story here: https://www.studyinternational.com/news/visa-delays-leave-hundreds-hong-kong-students-risk-losing-place-uk-unis/#VAsxeRQvdU8LqOSb.97

Earlier this month the Guardian published the story of Oxford student Brian White, who won his right to stay in the UK and study after a long battle. There had been concern over his immigration status. This led to a national campaign and an eventual grant of indefinite leave to remain. Brian feels the visa processing system is confusing for those without legal help. Brian’s personal case made for a potentially more complicated visa application than some. However, cases like Brian’s serve to highlight the changes occurring within Britain’s immigration policies to potential new students and migrants to the UK.

Find the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/10/oxford-student-stay-uk-visa-process-transparent-brian-white

What does Brexit mean for UK immigration and EU citizens living in the UK?

What does Brexit mean for UK immigration and EU citizens living in the UK?

Though little has progressed with Brexit since the UK voted to leave the EU, now 15 months ago, the concerns of EU citizens living in the UK remain. UK PM Theresa May made the biggest step towards actual change with Article 50, triggering the two-year process of withdrawal from the union in March this year. There is now a lengthy period of negotiation for the EU and UK to agree terms of the separation. The UK is faced with the choice to step away from, or remain with,  EU legislation which currently governs the UK, including the Free Movement of Labour for EU citizens.

What rights does the Free Movement of Labour give EU citizens in the UK today?

Currently, citizens from EU member states can work and reside in the UK as long as they are employed, or able to support themselves without an undue burden on public funds. EU citizens also have access to public services such as healthcare and education. Employers must treat EU citizens in the same way as UK citizens. Family members of EU citizens are allowed to accompany their relation. This applies to dependents, spouses, parents, grandparents and grandchildren. An EU citizen can start or run a company in the UK without any additional permissions.

Should European citizens in the UK be concerned?

Possibly, it is certain is that there will be changes. What the changes will be is not yet decided. Causing extensive worry for Europeans currently living or working in the UK. There are over 3 million citizens living in the UK today from EU countries. Some EU citizens worry about the possibility of deportation. However, the UK must consider relations with EU member states and the European Union as a whole. The negotiations for Brexit will include a strong desire for the UK to retain trade links and trade deals with the EU. The UK also needs to consider and protect UK citizens, and their rights, living in other EU member states also under the Free Movement of Labour. Deportation, as such, is not likely to happen. We look next at what might.

How will the status of EU citizens change after Brexit?

There is much negotiating to be done before the status and rights of EU citizens in the UK, and travelling to the UK, is finalised. It’s expected the government will produce a post-Brexit immigration policy to be announced in the next year.

Meanwhile, the government has taken steps to reassure EU citizens with the release of a “UK settled status” offer in June this year. The “settled status” will give EU citizens who have spent five or more years in the UK equal rights to healthcare, education, benefits and pensions. Individuals must apply for “settled status”, and can also apply for British Citizenship. A cut-off date will be set between the date article 50 was triggered, and the date the UK actually leaves the EU. Those who arrived before the cut-off date, but who have not lived in the UK for five years, will be able to apply once five years have expired. Those arriving after the cut-off date will be able to apply for permission to remain in the UK under the post-Brexit immigration rules yet to be set. Family dependants who are living with EU citizens in the UK before the exit from the EU will again be able to apply for “settled status” after a period of five years.  Applications will be to the Home Office. An online application system is expected to be launched in 2018 giving EU citizens time to apply before the UK leaves the EU.

Rumours abound as to what the rules will be for EU citizens visiting, or wanting to live and work, in the UK after the actual split from the EU occurs. The Guardian reported on August 17th that EU citizens would likely be allowed to visit without a visa. But, new migration restrictions would apply for those wanted to work in the UK.

Speculation around the new immigration system includes the possibility of quotas, or a set number of work permits becoming available for EU workers with certain skillsets. It’s unlikely that any form of complete continuation of free movement will happen post-Brexit. The UK government announced late July that free movement of people between the EU and the UK would end in March 2019. Any EU workers arriving after that date would need to at least register, whilst a permanent immigration solution was put in place.

So, what do the statistics say?

Current trends in European immigration to the UK.

Uncertainty and concern across the UK and EU is starting show in current migration statistics. Trends are showing how Brexit may affect the UK and it’s labour market now and in future years. The Independent in the UK reported on new Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures. The figures show net migration to the UK having fallen by a quarter mainly due to uncertain EU citizens leaving the UK. Concern is the figures constitute a “brain drain” from the UK as skilled labour reliant industries lose vital workers.

Net migration is the number of people moving to the UK minus the number who are leaving over the same period. The number of new arrivals to live and work in Britain fell by 81,000 compared to the previous year. Out of the 51,000 non-British leavers from the UK, 44,000 were EU citizens. Of entrants, there was a significant fall in the number of Polish and Czech migrants, down to just 7,000 from a previous 40,000.

Some politicians, and many business leaders, are worried about the impact to industry and the labour market in the UK. Unemployment is currently at it’s lowest ever for the UK, just 4.5 per cent. A continued departure of EU citizens, who make up a demographic of 3 million in the UK, could seriously detriment workforce figures.

The number of international students, which includes students from the EU, also declined by 27,000 in the past year. Despite studies not being available, the general consensus is that international students add value to an economy through their spending, social, and academic contribution. International students often go on to fill high-skilled gaps in the labour market within their new country, in this case the UK.

These are not the only labour market issues. The Independent also led with a story recently on UK Trade Unions and Labour party MP’s plans in favour of continued free movement of labour within the EU. They cite warnings over the impact of workers, with less rights post-Brexit, being exploited by employers. The group suggests EU workers who will in the future have less rights, may receive less pay and benefits, driving down wage rates in the UK economy. They warn the end of free movement may lead to worker shortages, which would affect sectors of industry in the UK.