NEWS / Affiliate / Brexit: EU workers' rights update


27 APR 2018


EU nationals in the UK prior to the Brexit date

The Government has reached an agreement on EU citizens’ rights, which relates specifically to EU nationals who arrive (or who are already) in the UK prior to the Brexit date (29 March 2019).

The key points to take on board are:
  • EU citizens who, by 29 March 2019, have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. 
  • EU citizens who arrive by 29 March 2019 but have not been living in the UK lawfully for 5 years when the UK leaves the EU, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status.
  • Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 29 March 2019 will also be able to apply for settled status, usually after 5 years in the UK.
  • Close family members will be able to join EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU, where the relationship existed on 29 March 2019.
  • During the 21 month transition period (ending on 31 December 2020), EU nationals' rights will be protected and maintained and the free movement of workers between the UK and Europe will continue. This will also apply to EU nationals who arrive in the UK during the transition period and those individuals will be able to use that time to count towards settled status.
  • All EU nationals who arrive in the UK during the transition period will have 6 months from the end of the transition period (until 30 June 2021) to apply for the relevant residence documentation.
The Government has not provided any clarity on EU citizens' rights after the transition period. The much anticipated Immigration White Paper, which should set out the proposals for post-Brexit immigration is now unlikely to be published before October this year.  The Home Office has stated on its website that EU citizens (and UK employers) do not have to do anything now and that they should wait for the new online application process to go live. However, we would suggest that ACE Members encourage EU employees with at least 5 years residence to apply for permanent residence now.

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Chris Syder

Chris Syder


Chris is a partner in Pennington Manches employment team. He has significant experience in construction and infrastructure, professional services, and engineering sectors, having been instructed by many leading organisations and senior executives.