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Citizenship guide
Imperial experience

EU nationals in a deal and no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 25 January 2019

With Brexit nearing upon us, with Theresa May’s deal failing and her attempts to rectify the situation, with the EU Settlement Scheme in the pilot phase, European nationals and their families wake up every day with more and more questions and concerns. The uncertainty is in the air, so it is always good to try and break down the possible outcomes, at least to be ready mentally.

One thing, which is very important for over 3 million Europeans, is already confirmed; they won’t have to empty their pockets to pay for their right to stay in the UK. The Prime Minister announced the axing of the settlement application fee from 30 March 2019 and refund for those applying during the test phase.

What happens if there is a BREXIT DEAL

EU nationals and their families can stay in the UK with the same rights as they had before Brexit. Basically, you do not have to do anything to stay till the end of 2020. However, if they want to stay in the country after that, you need to apply for a settled or pre-settled status through the special scheme open for application till 30 June 2021.

Settled status will be granted to EU citizens who have lawfully lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. For those who arrived later, pre-settled status will give a right to stay and work in the UK until the 5-year threshold is reached and they can apply for settlement. Pre-settlement is not permanent residence; you will still need to stay in the UK for 5 years without significant periods of absences in order to apply for settlement at the end of those five years.

What if there is a NO-DEAL BREXIT

The EU Settlement Scheme will be operating as planned. However, different rules and timeframes will apply:

  • You would need to have arrived in the UK by 29 March 2019 instead of 31 December 2020. Anyone arriving after that would need a visa;
  • You would have to apply for settlement before 31 December 2020 instead of 30 June 2021;
  • Close family members would only have three years to join EU citizens in the UK till 29 March 2022 instead of any point in the future;
  • If you have criminal records, you will be subject to UK thresholds and be deported more easily.

British citizenship for EU nationals

Settled status gives the right to permanently reside and work in the United Kingdom. But for example, it doesn’t give the right to vote. If you want to have all citizenship rights, you will need to apply for a British passport. Applications can be made a year after settlement. The process for Europeans is going to be easier than for other nationals. EU citizens will not be asked to prove their level of English and pass a Life in the UK test.

It all seems quite nerve-racking and worrying at the moment. We just need to wait for another two months and see what happens. Until then the choice is yours; try and secure your status now or wait till the picture is clear.

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