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Sunday, 25 February

Euro Workers - Residence Issues

Before Christmas, the Federation of Master Builders raised fears that European construction workers might head home for the Festive Season and simply not come back. It's time to look at how European workers can apply for 'residence' in the UK and vice versa for Brits on the Continent.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Our latest research shows that EU workers are vital to the success of the UK construction industry and our message to these individuals is clear – you are highly valued and we need you. Christmas is now upon us and there’s a risk that those EU migrant workers who go home to their home countries for the festive period might not come back. With Brexit looming large on the horizon, EU workers in the UK are facing high levels of uncertainty over their future. Furthermore, since the depreciation of Sterling in the summer of 2016, their wages aren’t worth as much as they were previously. Employers are genuinely concerned that this mixture of uncertainty about the future and less money in their pockets will make the UK a much less attractive proposition that it was pre-referendum.

“Ministers haven’t done enough to reassure EU workers that they have a future in the UK.”


The UK government has established an agreement on rights for EU citizens and their families:

  • People who, by 29 March 2019, have been continuously and lawfully living here for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. That means they will be free to live here, have access to public funds and services and go on to apply for British citizenship.
  • People who arrive by 29 March 2019, but won’t have been living here lawfully for 5 years when we leave 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 (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens after exit, where the relationship existed on 29 March 2019.
  • EU citizens with settled status or temporary permission to stay will have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.


Applying for settled status

EU citizens and their family members in the UK will need to apply to get their status document. Getting this status will prove (for example, to employers or public service providers) that they have permission to continue living and working here in future.

The application fee will be no more than the cost charged to British citizens for a UK passport. If you already have a valid permanent residence document, it will be free.

The application process is to be as streamlined, quick and user-friendly as possible using existing government data to reduce the amount of evidence needed to be provided. For example, HMRC’s employment records will show a UK work history.


As an EU citizen applying to the scheme, you will need to:

  • Provide an identity document and a recent photograph to confirm your identity and nationality
  • declare any criminal convictions.
  • You won’t have to account for every trip you’ve taken out of the UK.
  • You won’t have to show evidence that you held comprehensive sickness insurance.
  • You won’t have to give your fingerprints.

The online application form will go live in late 2018.

So people have enough time to apply, the scheme will remain open for applications for a considerable period, at least 2 years, after the UK leaves the EU. During this period your rights in the UK will be protected. If you apply under the scheme, but don’t receive a decision before the end of this period, you can continue living here until the decision is made.


Permanent residence status under EU law

While the UK remains in the EU you don’t need to apply for a document to prove you can live in the UK unless you’re an extended family member of someone from the European Economic Area or Switzerland or you want to apply for British citizenship.


Agreement on rights for UK nationals and their families

The agreement for UK nationals and their family members is:

  • UK nationals, as well as their family members covered by the agreement, who are lawfully residing in a EU27 Member State by 29 March 2019, will be able to continue to reside in that Member State.
  • Children born or adopted outside of a UK national’s resident Member State after the 29 March 2019 will also be covered by this agreement.
  • Close family members (spouses, civil partners and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join UK nationals in their Member State of residence after exit under these rules, where the relationship existed on 29 March 2019 and continues to exist when they wish to move to join their UK national family member.
  • EU27 Member States may require UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement to apply to obtain a status conferring the right of residence and/or obtain a residency document. Administrative procedures for applications for status will be transparent, smooth and streamlined. Where an application is required to obtain status, UK nationals will have at least two years to submit their applications. Residence documents will be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents. Further information on these administrative procedures will be provided when available.

UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement will be able to be absent from their Member State of residence for up to 5 years without losing their right to return.

The agreement reached with the European Commission does not cover UK nationals living in the European Free Trade Association states (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland).

Picture: What are EU workers rights after March 29 2019

Article written by Cathryn Ellis


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