What impact will Brexit have on EU nationals currently working in the UK?
It is not yet certain what rules on immigration and free movement of people will be in place following the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The rights of EU nationals working in the UK has been a key element of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.
On 8 December 2017, the UK Government announced that it had reached an agreement with the EU on citizens' rights. Further agreement on the terms of the implementation period was announced on 19 March 2018. Government guidance on the status of EU citizens in the UK has been updated to reflect the agreement. The agreement is not yet law and is subject to change, depending on the ultimate outcome of the negotiations, but provides a strong indication of what the post-Brexit position will be.
There will be an implementation period, beginning on 29 March 2019 (the withdrawal date) and ending on 31 December 2020. Under the agreement, EU nationals residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be eligible for settled status when they have been resident for five years. This will give them the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely. Those who do not have five years' continuous residence can apply for a residence permit, giving them the right to remain until they reach the five-year mark, at which point they can apply for settled status. The registration scheme is expected to be available before the end of 2018 and will remain open for applications until 30 June 2021. EU citizens who arrive in the UK during the implementation period will need to register their residence if they stay for longer than 3 months.
Individuals who have already obtained evidence of permanent residence status under the current system will need to apply again under the new system, to obtain settled status. The Government has said that this process will be simple and free of charge.