Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that all EU nationals living lawfully in the UK will be able to continue their residency after Brexit.
At a European Council summit in Brussels, the PM also maintained that the UK will have full jurisdiction over these rights.
However, PM May has made it clear that she wants that reciprocated by the 27 countries in the EU. Currently, around 1.2 million British nationals live abroad in the EU, according to Migrant Watch.
The Prime Minister proposed a “fair and serious offer” that all EU nationals who were living in the UK before she triggered Article 50 in March will be entitled to stay.
PM May has also said that she doesn’t want to “break up families”, implying that spouses and children will be able to stay, too. She has not commented on whether EU nationals will be able to claim child support for children living in the EU.
There are around three million EU nationals living in the UK at present.
Prime Minister May refused to meet EU demands that the “cut-off date”, after which EU citizens are no longer automatically entitled to stay in the UK, should fall on the day that Britain leaves the European Union.
A recent study by YouGov has shown that the majority of the UK is in favour of a “hard Brexit”.
Under the current plans, those who have already lived in the UK for five years will be granted “settled status” and allowed to permanently live in Britain.
If an individual is an EU national and arrived in the UK before the “cut-off date”, they will also be entitled to stay permanently, as long as they remain in Britain for at least five years.
The “cut-off date” has not been agreed on yet. The offer will even apply to those who arrive just a day before the date.
Those who arrived after the cut-off date will have a “grace period” of up to two years, during which they can apply for another form of immigration status, such as a work permit.
The British Prime Minister said that the “cut-off date” would be up for negotiation and could fall at any point between March 29 2017, the date that Article 50 was triggered, and the date that Britain leaves the European Union. The UK is expected to leave the EU in March 2019.
As the “cut-off date” has not been decided, it leaves many of the three million nationals living in the UK unsure of their status.
The permanent residency application is currently 85 pages long and has attracted a lot of complaints and criticism, and PM May has pledged to streamline the process.
May said at a dinner in Brussels: “The commitment that we make to EU citizens will be enshrined in EU law and enforced through our highly-respected courts. The UK’s position represents a fair and serious offer, one aimed at giving as much certainty as possible to citizens who have settled in the UK, building careers and lives and contributing so much to our society.”
A senior official has said that EU citizens will have the same rights as British people. They said: “We will be aiming to treat them [EU migrants] as if they were UK citizens for healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.”
EU leaders have said that it is a good start to the Brexit negotiations but there is plenty more to discuss.