Under EU law, EU citizens are permitted to exercise their rights of ‘free movement’ across countries who are members of the European Union. This includes an initial right of residence in a member country for up to three months without any restrictions, and a right of residence beyond three months where they meet the relevant requirements (worker, employee, self-employed, student or are deemed to be self-sufficient). After a continuous period of 5 years, having satisfied these requirements, EU citizens automatically acquire permanent residence in the member country under EU law.
These residence rights will remain available to EU citizens living in the UK until we have formally left the EU, but the position beyond this is not clear. The Immigration Law Practioners’ Association (ILPA) has published guidance for EU citizens living in the UK, for how best to protect their existing rights of residence during the period of ongoing negotiations and before eventual ‘Brexit’. These include taking the following steps:
- applying for documentation confirming permanent residence
- applying for documentation confirming right to reside
- exercising residence requirements
- keeping records of residence and evidence of exercising residence requirements
- campaigning to protect the rights of EU citizens.
The full ILPA guidance can be reviewed here.