EU citizens granted “settled status” in post-Brexit Britain will be allowed to bring their families to the country, even if they’re not already there, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.
Speaking to the House of Commons on Monday, May said the deal means anyone who has lived in the UK for five years continuously will be free to bring their family from Europe to live in Britain as long as they do so before Brexit.
Family members are generally accepted as dependent children, spouses, parents, and could possibly include cousins, although that detail is yet to be agreed on, according to the Telegraph.
The announcement has led to claims that many more than the three million EU nationals currently living in Britain will be given the right to live and work in the country after the UK leaves the bloc.
“Settled status” is essentially the same as an indefinite right to remain, which gives the holder access to UK public services and access benefits and education. It does not give the holder the right to a British passport, but those with six-years’ residency can apply for citizenship and obtain one this way.
Under May’s plan, those who have been in the UK for a shorter time would be able to stay until they hit the five-year threshold for settled status. Others who arrive after an unspecified cut-off date will be given a “grace period,” expected to be two years.
May is seeking a reciprocal deal with other states. Announcing the deal on Monday, she told EU citizens: “We want you to stay.”
Her 15-page policy paper proposes a new “light touch” online system to process applications for “settled status.” Those from the EU living in Britain will be given a special identity card.
The plans could see EU citizens in the UK losing future voting rights in British local elections. They will also lose the protection of the European court of justice, which will no longer have jurisdiction over citizens’ rights in the UK.
Apart from these exceptions, their “settled status” will give them the right to live in Britain, undertake any lawful activity, access public funds and apply for British citizenship.