On 26 June 2017 the Government published a policy paper on “Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU”.

Please note these are proposals from the UK Government to the EU - rather than final legislation - and these proposals may change as negotiations continue.


UK government proposals

UK Government proposals: key points

The key points contained within the proposals are:

Citizens' rights

  • All EU citizens (except Irish citizens), will have to apply for new UK residence documentation, regardless of when they arrived in the UK. This includes those who have already obtained EU Permanent Residence cards.
  • Rights of EU citizens will be determined based on a “cut-off date” yet to be confirmed but likely to be between 29 March 2017 (the date Article 50 was triggered) and 29 March 2019 (the date the UK will leave the EU).
  • EU citizens who have five years’ continuous residence in the UK by the cut-off date will be able to apply for a new “settled status”. Those granted settled status will be able to stay indefinitely in any capacity, undertake any lawful activity, access the same benefits as a comparable UK national, and apply for British citizenship.
  • EU citizens who arrive before the cut-off date but have not acquired five years’ continuous residence will be granted temporary residence permission to allow them to stay long enough to apply for settled status.
  • EU citizens who arrive after the cut-off date but before exit will be able to continue to exercise EU freedom of movement rights until 29 March 2019.  They will then have to apply for permission to remain under the immigration rules in place at the time, which will be decided by the UK closer to the time.
  • EU citizens who arrive after exit (29 March 2019) will be subject to the immigration rules in place at the time. 
  • Irish citizens residing in the UK will not need to apply for settled status as their rights are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949 which pre-dates membership of the EU.
  • The Government intends to discuss similar arrangements with the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Family dependants

  • Family dependants who join an EU citizen in the UK before exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years, irrespective of the cut-off date.
  • Family dependants who join an EU citizen in the UK after exit will either be subject to the same rules as apply to non-EU nationals joining British citizens or the immigration rules for EU citizens in place at the time.
  • Children of EU citizens with settled status will be able to apply for settled status irrespective of whether they were born or arrived in the UK before or after the cut-off date. Children born in the UK will automatically acquire British citizenship.


  • Due to the volume of applications for residence documentation, the Home Office will provide blanket temporary residence permission to all EU citizens and their families already living in the UK on the date of exit (29 March 2019) for a grace period of up to two years, during which time they will be legally required to apply for residence documentation.
  • The Government has indicated that the application process for settled status will be streamlined compared to that for Permanent Residence (e.g. evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance for students and self-sufficient people will not be required) and the application will cost a reasonable fee. The new online application process is expected to be up and running in 2018.

What should I do now?

The Government advises there is no need to do anything now. EU citizens will be able to continue to exercise EU freedom of movement rights until 29 March 2019 and reasonable time will be allowed for individuals to apply for the appropriate UK residence documentation. 

Up until now, the College has advised EEA staff and their dependants with five years’ continuous residence in the UK to consider applying for EU Permanent Residence cards.  In light of the Government's proposals for new separate residence documentation, the College recommends EEA nationals wait for the position to be clarified before applying for any residence documentation.  It seems likely that anyone who has already obtained Permanent Residence will be required to make a further application for settled status.   This may change - it is possible the Government may agree to accept EU Permanent Residence cards after exit or those with EU Permanent Residence cards may have their applications for settled status expedited - but this is currently unclear.

However, EEA nationals with Permanent Residence who have been in the UK for six years may wish to consider applying for British citizenship before exit. Equally those with six years’ continuous residence in the UK who have not yet applied for Permanent Residence may wish to consider doing so in order to allow them to apply for British citizenship.

Changes to the College’s legal and financial support package

As a result of these proposals, the EEA staff support presentations outlining the EU Permanent Residence and British citizenship routes have been placed on hold.

For staff considering applying for British citizenship, we will continue to offer one hour’s individual legal advice (including support with completion of applications) through a specialist immigration firm. If you have already attended one ouf EEA staff support presentations, please use the email address provided to contact the solicitors directly.  If you have not, then please email your request for legal advice to directorofhr@imperial.ac.uk

There are some costs associated with payment of application fees and funding of additional legal support where necessary. Departments may consider reimbursing application fees at their discretion. Alternatively, an interest-free loan facility is available. Please see the Salary Advance for UK immigration application fees form for further details.

Updated FAQs will be available shortly.

We know that the EU Referendum decision has caused many of our staff great uncertainty as we employ many diverse nationalities in our community.  Staff can contact directorofhr@imperial.ac.uk if there is any further information that would be helpful and we will attempt to respond to queries as soon as possible. We are committed to making this time of transition as painless as possible for our staff.