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May proposes 'settled status'

May’s EU ‘rights’ plan fails to silence critics

Theresa May

Theresa May: offer to migrants

Theresa May’s plans to guarantee EU citizens’ rights in Britain came under fire for not going far enough.

Mrs May published a 15-page document providing further details of the proposals she set out last week.

EU nationals could apply for “settled status” in the UK if they have been living in Britain for at least five years. Relatives could also gain the right to live and work in the UK.

Those who arrive after an agreed date will have two years to “regularise their status” but with no guarantees.

Mrs May said: “No families will be split up. Family dependents who join a qualifying EU citizen here before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years.

“And after the UK has left the European Union, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals.”

The 3.2m EU citizens in the UK may also be required to carry ID card to prove to employers and service that they have a right to access public services.

However, Mrs May wants settled status to come under the jurisdiction of British courts, rather than the European Court of Justice which has not been supported by EU leaders.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart McDonald described Mrs May’s offer to EU Nationals as “too little too late.”

Mr McDonald said the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament “marked a clear diminution of EU citizens’ rights.”

He said: “EU citizens in the UK have had a year of uncertainty- and now their offer from Theresa May falls short.

“Once again we are seeing the Prime Minister use EU citizens as bargaining chips as their future in the UK has been dragged into EU negotiations and we see a clear diminution of EU citizens’ rights.

“The UK government must now be waking up to the administrative nightmare that Brexit will cause, as well as the huge skills and recruitment problems that an end to free movement will bring- they should think again and instead look to continue membership of the single market, along with free movement of workers.”

There was a more positive response from business. Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:Business will welcome these proposals as an important first step. Protecting the rights of EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad is the right priority at the outset of the negotiations, and firms will look forward to an early resolution of this issue.

“Both sides need to provide reassurance for millions of employees, giving certainty for businesses and starting to build real momentum to the negotiations.

“Companies will also expect a low-cost, speedy and simple solution to be put in place for EU citizens to establish their right to settlement in the UK.”

Key points

  • Those granted settled status will be able to live, work, study and claim benefits just as they can now
  • The cut-off date for eligibility is undecided but will be between 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2019
  • Family members of EU citizens living abroad will be able to return and apply for settled status
  • EU nationals in the UK for less than five years at the specified date will be able to continue living and working in the UK
  • Once resident for five years, they can apply for settled status
  • Those arriving after the cut-off point will be able to stay temporarily
  • But there should be “no expectation” they will be granted permanent residence
  • A period of “blanket residence permission” may apply to give officials time to process applications to stay in the UK
  • The Home Office will no longer require evidence that EU citizens who weren’t working held “comprehensive sickness insurance”
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