This article has been updated – it was originally published after a Brexit deal was struck between Theresa May's government and the European Union in November 2018.
The provisions on citizens' rights were incorporated in the revised divorce agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson's government with the EU. These will have legal effect after the UK leaves the EU on January 31, 2020 under the terms of the ratified deal.
This article summarises the rights of EU citizens living in the UK as set out in the agreement.
The terms of the Brexit deal renegotiated between London and Brussels in October 2019 and approved by EU27 countries, and the British and European parliaments, come into effect after the UK leaves the EU on January 31, 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement outlines the future rights of EU citizens currently living the UK, as well as Britons living on the continent.
Under the deal, EU nationals in the UK and Britons in the EU – plus family members – will retain residency and social security rights after Brexit. Freedom to move and live within the EU and UK will continue during a planned transition period. People will be allowed to stay when it ends and apply for permanent residency after five years.
If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, here is what you need to know:
Q:Will I be able to keep on living in the United Kingdom after January 31, 2020, when the UK leaves the European Union?
A: Yes. Essentially the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, are protected by the agreement. If you are from the EU and have lived in the UK permanently for five years by the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020) then you will be able to continue to reside in the UK permanently.
Q:What if, by the end of the transition period I haven't lived in the UK for five years?
A: You will still be able to acquire the right to permanent residency by completing five years living in the UK, as long as you are legally resident by the end of the transition period. This right can only be lost if you leave the country for a period of more than five years.
Q:Will my permanent resident status be conferred automatically, with no further action on my part?
A: In most cases no, you will have to apply for your new residence status. Government guidelines say the deadline is 30 June 2021 -- six months after the end of the transition period. Exceptions are Irish citizens and people with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
Q:Will the application be free of charge?
A: Yes. The government announced in January 2019 that it was scrapping plans for a fee of £65 for over-16s, £32.50 for under-16s. Its guidance to EU citizens says it's free to apply to the scheme, and anyone who has paid to apply will get a refund.
Q:What if I miss the deadline for applying?
A: The agreement says applications should still be allowed within a reasonable time period, if there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. The UK Home Office (interior ministry) said in a statement in January 2020 that people who have "reasonable grounds" for missing the deadline will be given a "further opportunity to apply". It followed an earlier comment by a government minister that people who had not formalised their status by the deadline could "theoretically" be deported.
Q:Will my family be able to join me in the UK?
A: Yes, at least your close family - partners (married, civil and unmarried), dependent children and dependent parents or grandparents. However, the agreement does say that there are conditions attached to those who are defined as close family members or partners.
Q:Will I be able to continue working in the UK?
A: Yes, in general, you will have the same rights working in the UK as you have now, whether you are employed or self-employed. The agreement enshrines the principle of equal treatment between UK and EU citizens resident in each other's territories, in areas including employment, housing and education. Professional qualifications should continue to be recognised.
Q:What about the right to social security?
A: In general, EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by the end of the transition period should still be covered.
Q:Will I still be able to leave and re-enter the UK whenever I choose?
A: Yes, during the transition period, as long as you hold a valid passport or national identity card from issued by your country within the EU. After the transition period, from 1 January 2021 the UK government intends to implement a new immigration system.
Q:I'm an EU citizen but I've never lived or worked in the UK and wish to apply after the transition period - what will be my rights?
A: This is not covered in the agreement. However, the Conservative government has made it clear it wants to reduce immigration to the UK and intends to end free movement for EU nationals as soon as possible. It has plans for a "points–based" immigration system for both EU and non-EU migrants, giving priority to those with skills.
The section on Citizens' Rights including the issues above is set out from pages 17–65 of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Further guidance for EU citizens in the UK is available on the European Commission website.