Government sets out proposed ‘settled status’ for EU citizens
The Conservative government have formally outlined their proposal to allow EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit.
Under the proposals, EU citizens with five years’ continuous residence in the UK can apply for ‘settled status’. They will then be treated as UK citizens for the purposes of healthcare, education, benefits and pensions. EU citizens with less than five years’ residence will be entitled to stay until they can apply for residency.
The plans could potentially result in EU citizens who have not accrued five years of legal and continuous residence in the UK losing their right to remain and work in the UK after Brexit, skilled EU workers in the UK may consider leaving the UK. Both could result in UK companies encountering a short to long-term skills deficit, making it necessary for them to up-skill existing British workers.
Businesses should consider taking steps to help those highly skilled EU workers who have been living legally and continuously in the UK for five years protect their rights. Beyond this, they will need to be prepared for uncertainty and the increased costs which may result from the imposition of a new work permit system. The Home Office has said that it has a broad range of options under consideration and will be publishing proposals shortly.
Those who have not reached five years of legal and continuous residence in the UK will be entitled to apply for continued residence in the UK on a temporary basis until they reach the threshold. Those arriving in the UK after the cut-off date will be given a two-year ‘grace period’ to either obtain a work permit or to return to their home countries. People will be given the opportunity to apply for settled status as early as possible with no obligation to do it before the UK leaves the EU, key to this will be a similar initiative for UK citizens living within EU countries.
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