European Union citizens living in Britain will have until March 2022 to bring close family members to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Stephen Barclay has announced.
The Brexit Secretary said EU citizens and their families would have until the end of December 2020 to apply for settlement status if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.
After March 29 2022, any family members, such as spouses, wishing to join EU citizens resident in the UK would have to apply under the new immigration system due to be introduced following Brexit, he explained.
Britain has pledged to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK in the case of a no-deal Brexit and Mr Barclay repeated the UK’s appeal for EU27 states to offer the same promise to Britons living on the continent.
He said that any British nationals unable to live their lives in EU27 states as they do now, and who were forced to return to the UK following a no-deal Brexit, the Government would be ready to consider steps to ensure their access to healthcare, education, benefits and housing.
In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Barclay said: “In an unlikely no deal scenario the Government is committing to protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 29 March 2019, so that they can continue to work, study and access benefits and services on the same basis as now.
“As there would be no agreed implementation period, EU citizens and their family members resident here by 29 March 2019 would have until 31 December 2020 to apply for a status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
“The process will be simple and streamlined.”
He added: “Without the reciprocity provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement, we have decided in a small number of important areas that it is appropriate that the rights of EU citizens are brought in line with those of UK nationals, to bring fairness back into our immigration system.
“For example, in respect of rights to family reunification, we plan that EU citizens resident here by exit day would be able to be joined in the UK by their existing close family members, such as a spouse, under existing EU law, until 29 March 2022, after which point the future UK Immigration Rules would apply to such family reunion.”