This is good news for the EU citizens living in your local area and for people who rely on the services and support they provide, either as direct local authority employees or through their work with your contractual suppliers.
The Prime Minister has consistently said that protecting EU citizens’ rights – together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries – has been her first priority. EU citizens made a decision to live here without any expectation that the UK would leave the EU. The UK government wants them to be able to carry on living their lives as before.
We have taken a big step forward. EU citizens living lawfully here before the UK’s exit from the EU will be able to stay. The deal will respect the rights that individuals are exercising and the benefits they currently have. This will help EU citizens and large organisations like yours plan for the future.
The agreement will not only enable families who have built their lives in the EU and UK to stay together, it also gives certainty about healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications, for example for doctors and architects.
These commitments will be locked into a binding and reciprocal agreement with the EU. You can read the agreement here.
All EU citizens will need to apply to obtain status in UK law. A new, transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable them to apply for settled status will start during the second half of 2018 and remain open for at least two years after the UK leaves the EU.
Communicating with EU citizens about the scheme will be a top priority for my department to ensure people are aware of the scheme and what they need to do to secure their rights. My officials are working closely with a range of organisations in the design of the scheme. It will be vital that you are kept up to date and feel equipped to pass on information to your staff and partners. GOV.UK will be updated with the latest position.
As we move from withdrawal issues to discussing our future relationship with the EU, I shall shortly be publishing proposals for the UK’s future immigration system, and bringing forward an Immigration Bill as announced in the Queen’s Speech. My officials and I will continue to engage with local authorities and as many sectors as possible as part of this process.
I hope this provides reassurance to you and your teams. I would encourage you to share the links to further information above with anyone you think will find it useful. Your staff can also sign up for regular official email updates on citizens’ rights from the government.
I look forward to sharing further progress with you over the coming months.