What will happen to EU citizens in the UK after Brexit?

The last three years have been a deeply worrying time for EU citizens living in the UK.

Many of them took the decision to cut their losses and leave the UK after the vote to Leave because of the uncertainty about their future.

While others reported feeling that they were no longer welcome – a particularly painful blow for those who have spent decades in Britain, raised families and dedicated much of their lives to public services such as the NHS.

It has caused problems for business and for sectors such as social care and agriculture who rely on EU workers.

The uncertainty was largely caused by a decision by Theresa May’s government not to unilaterally protect their rights ahead of an agreement from Brussels to do the same.

Critics said she was using EU citizens as bargaining chips.

Theresa May was accused of using EU citizens as “bargaining chips”

Will EU citizens be allowed to stay in the UK after Brexit?

Freedom of movement will continue to apply in the UK during the transition period.

It means that EU citizens can continue to come to the UK to work and study and vice versa.

But after the two years is up things will begin to change.

And EU citizens will have to begin to make preparations during that time.

EU citizens can continue arriving freely in the UK to live and work until 31 December 2020.

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But they must apply by June 2021 for “settled status”, which gives them the right to stay in the UK.

Demonstrators hold banners during a protest to Lobby MPs to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, after Brexit, outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 13, 2017.

Those who haven’t lived in the UK for five continuous years have to apply twice – first for “pre-settled status”, then again for settled status when they hit the five-year mark.

So far around two-thirds of those who need to have undergone the application process.

After 1 January 2021, new EU citizens who want to come to the UK will be subject to a points-based immigration system. They will have to prove their skills and probably earn a minimum salary.

And what about British citizens in the EU?

Demonstrators hold banners during a protest to Lobby MPs to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

Again Freedom of Movement will continue during the transition period.

But some brits on the continent warn that there is a lack of information about their status after that time.

Each EU state will make their own decision about the status of Brits and what formalities they may need to undergo in order to be allowed to continue living and working in their country.

This week concerned Brits wrote to Michel Barnier to ask that they not become bargaining chips for a second time.

They have launched an information campaign because of what they say is a lack of consistency among member states on their rights.

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Whereas EU citizens in the UK have the right to apply for settled status, Brits on the continent don’t have the same opportunity because the UK will be a third country.

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So their main concern is whether they will still have the right to live and work there.

This was not agreed in the withdrawal agreement because the UK wanted to end uncontrolled migration to Britain.

Instead it will be decided in the second round of negotiations set to begin in the coming months.

It all means uncertainty for people who will be wanting the plan their lives and those of their family.


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