What's going to happen?
At 11.59 pm (UK time) on March 29 2019, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU - known as "Brexit".
Some basic principles and proposals about which, and how, EEA nationals
will be able to claim UK benefits have been made public but details will not be fully available until the Regulations are published and it is made completely clear as to how Brexit will be implemented .
The information that is available is a little complex and vague in places, so we have done our best to interpret and simplify it - but please note this information is subject to change.
An Immigration Bill, yet to be published, will, according to the government:"Bring EU migration under UK law, enabling the UK to set out its future immigration system in domestic legislation".
The government is currently proposing that:
- EEA nationals entering the UK after 31st December 2020 will (with some exceptions) be treated the same as people from outside the EEA ie requiring leave to enter and remain in the UK, and with rights to benefits, including Universal Credit, based on their immigration status.
- But there is a way to protect rights, including rights to benefits, under the the "EU Settlement Scheme" described in the scheme's "Statement of Intent".
- The EU Settlement Scheme will enable some EEA nationals and certain family members who are already living in the UK as at 31st December 2020 to get a new immigration status - "settled status under UK immigration law" which will enable them to claim benefits (as it is also referred to in documentation as "indefinite leave to remain" we are expecting these EEA nationals to be able to claim benefits under the same rules that apply to British Citizens).
- There will be an "implementation period" that will run up to and including 31st December 2020 during which EEA nationals currently living in the UK will be able to continue to claim Universal Credit (and other benefits) under the current rules - ie being "habitually resident in the UK" which includes having a "right to reside".
- Those EEA nationals (and some non EEA national family members of EEA nationals) who are able to apply for "settled status" under the EU Settlement scheme will have up until 30th June 2021 to do so (with extensions in some cases). Non-EU family members joining EU citizens during the Brexit “transition” or “implementation” period between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020 will need to register within three months.
An application for settled status will be made through the Home Office, online, at a cost of £65.00 - though there is no fee if they already have a "permanent residence status" .certificate or card.
- It would appear that Irish Citizens will be able to claim benefits in the same way as British citizens. A White Paper published in July 2018 "The Future Relationship between the UK and the EU" states: "Irish citizens will continue to enjoy a special status in the UK, provided for by domestic legislation, distinct from the status of other EU nationals."