It has been reported in the Guardian today that after the dinner of EU leaders which takes place tonight in Brussels, Theresa May will set out the principles of the Government’s negotiating position on the future rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
Philip Hammond has said that the UK Government will be generous to EU citizens who have lived and contributed to the UK economy over many years. This is in stark contrast to the UK Government’s previous position, post the EU referendum, where they have repeatedly said that they are not willing to guarantee the rights of EU citizens of permanent residency in the UK without a reciprocal pledge about the future of British citizens living in other EU countries.
There have also been rumours circulating around Parliament that the Government may wish to carry out an appraisal of exactly how many EU citizens wish to gain permanent residency and British nationality (many of whom have already automatically acquired permanent residency). It has been suggested, the Government will invite these people to register their interest and in doing so will allow them to live and work in the UK post March 2019 when the UK formally leaves the EU and when freedom of movement will end. No doubt that at some point before we leave the EU in March 2019, the Government will have in place formal immigration procedures for EU nationals wishing to come live and work in the UK incorporated into national law. This was announced in the Queen’s speech yesterday in which she set out the Government’s plan to introduce a new Immigration Bill and “new national policies on immigration” in light of Brexit. The new Bill will repeal EU law on free movement and thus all EU migration post March 2019 will come under UK Immigration Rules (whatever they may be).
It will be interesting to see (if the above rumours are true) what will happen to those EU nationals that don’t wish to register their interest but still wish to live and work in the UK and whom have already acquired permanent residency under current EEA Regulations but not made a formal application for a residency card.