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EU Citizens, Brexit and Your School

on Thursday, 25 January 2018.

Before Christmas, the first phase of negotiations on Britain's exit from the EU were agreed in sufficient enough detail to allow the talks to move forward. One of the topics covered was the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in.

The announcement was made subject to the caveat that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" - meaning that if agreement cannot be reached on the future relationship between the UK and EU then the process outlined below may not be implemented. However, schools might be pleased to learn that in a large majority of cases, their existing EU citizen employees will be able to remain in the UK and continue in their current roles with little administrative burden.

The draft agreement also protects the rights of any dependent children or grand-children of EU citizens, together with any children born or adopted in the meantime to those covered by the agreement. This should hopefully ensure that school populations and new admissions should not be dramatically affected by Brexit, in the short- to medium-term at least.

Tom Brett Young from our Immigration Team has summarised what was agreed at this stage:

Citizens' Rights

An agreement was reached on the creation of a Withdrawal Agreement (the Agreement) which will include provisions protecting the rights of EU citizens so that EU citizens and their families in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU "can carry on living their lives broadly as they do now".

The key points of the Agreement are as follows:

Who it Covers

  • The Agreement will cover those EU citizens who have been exercising free movement rights in the UK at the time of the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019. Family members living lawfully in the UK with an EU citizen relative at this point are also protected.

'Settled Status'

  • EU citizens and their family members who have already lived in the UK continuously for five years will be eligible to apply for 'settled status'. Those who have not been here for five years on the withdrawal date will be able to remain in the UK to build up five years' continuous residence and then apply for settled status.
  • There will be a grace period of two years after the UK's withdrawal during which applications can be submitted. EU citizens and their family members who are resident on the date of the UK's withdrawal but have not yet lived here for five years will be required to apply for documentation confirming their right of residence.
  • Once someone has been granted settled status, they will be permitted to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing that status.
  • The close family members of those protected by the Agreement, who live in a different country when the UK leaves the EU, will be permitted to reunite as a family at any time in the future. They will then be eligible for settled status.

Family Members

  • The Agreement will define 'close family members' as spouses, civil partners and partners who can demonstrate that they are in a genuine long-term relationship, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and dependent grandparents.
  • Children born to or adopted by those covered by the Agreement after the UK leaves the EU will be protected. If an EU citizen covered by the Agreement marries, forms a civil partnership or their long-term relationship does not meet long-term partner definition until after 29 March 2019, their spouse/partner will need to meet the UK's Immigration Rules in force at that time in order to join them here.

Settled Status Applications

The government will create a new process for applications for settled status and has stated that the new system will be "streamlined, user-friendly and draw on existing government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence." It has also confirmed that applications will not be refused on minor technicalities, that caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate and that it expects "the vast majority of cases to be granted, with refusals most likely to be because of serious criminality or if the person is not an EU citizen (or family member) or not resident in the UK".

A settled status application will cost no more than the fee paid by British citizens to get a passport. Those who already have permanent residence documentation will not be charged, but will still need to apply albeit through a simpler process than the full scheme.

The new scheme will be launched in the second half of 2018, with qualifying individuals and their family members invited to apply on a voluntary basis.


Schools who are in the process of recruiting EU citizens may also be pleased to note that EU citizens arriving between now and the UK's withdrawal in March 2019 will be able to remain post-Brexit. Immigration schemes for EU citizens who wish to come to the UK after Brexit will be discussed as part of the next phase of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The government is still advising EU citizens living in the UK that there is no need for them to do anything at this stage. However, it is still possible for applications for Permanent Residence documentation to be submitted. That documentation will be converted into settled status documentation under a streamlined process once that scheme has been launched. Additionally, Permanent Residence documentation is still a requirement for EU citizens wishing to naturalise as British citizens.

For further information or advice, please contact Tom Brett Young, in our Immigration team, on 0121 227 3759.

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