Theresa May Concedes on EU Migrants’ Residency Rights During Brexit Transition
Theresa May has conceded that EU migrants who come to Britain during the Brexit transition will have the right to settle permanently in the UK, in a major climbdown over future residency rights, The Guardian reports.
The concession, slipped out in a Brexit policy paper by the Home Office, also makes clear that EU migrants who arrive after March 2019 will be given a five-year temporary residence permit, not the two-year one that was previously proposed by ministers.
The policy paper does, however, make clear that EU migrants who come to live and work in Britain during the transition period will not have the same rights once it ends to bring family to join them as EU nationals already resident in Britain who have secured “settled status”. Instead, they will have to pass a minimum income threshold test, which is currently set at £18,600 for British but not EU citizens.
The three-page policy statement makes clear that EU migrants arriving during the transition period will be given the chance to build up the five years’ continuous residency that is needed to apply to be given the right to stay permanently in Britain. It says those EU citizens and their family members who arrive during the transition period and who register will be offered “a temporary status in UK law that will enable them to stay after the implementation period has concluded – this means that they will be able to remain lawfully in the UK working, studying or being self-sufficient for the five years needed to obtain settlement”.
The policy paper makes clear that those EU migrants who wish to stay for the long term will have to register within three months of arriving. There will also be a three-month “window” at the end of the Brexit transition period for applications to ensure that there is no cliff-edge. Irish citizens will not be required to register.
One major potential sticking point with this fresh British offer is the government’s insistence that citizens’ rights will only be enforceable in UK courts, and not through the European court of justice.
May was accused of pandering to hard Brexiters when she promised during a three-day trip to China this month to “battle the EU” over its proposal to promise long-term residency rights to those who arrived after 29 March 2019.
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