EU citizens have been warned by the Prime Minister Theresa May that they must bring their families to the UK before Brexit or they will face tough entry requirements. The Prime Minister has ignored calls from the European Commission to allow the families of EU citizens residing in the UK automatic rights to join them. The Prime Minister has was warned that they will face the same process as those without family in the UK.
The UK has also ignored calls to guarantee the EU the rights of citizens to be upheld by the European Court of Justice. The UK claims that as the ECJ will no longer have any jurisdiction in the UK, the rights would not be appropriate. But the UK has insisted that the rights will be transferred to British law. This will be part of a large number of laws that will be transferred from EU law into UK law and will form the basis of the Repeal Bill.
The rights of EU citizens in the UK has been a major sticking point in the run up to the negotiations and is believed to be one of the toughest areas to iron out. The UK has a very different take on the future of immigration than the EU would like. This is likely to be the biggest barrier between the Brexit negotiation team and its counterparts in Brussels.
The scale of the task of transferring EU citizens to a new "settled status" will be huge for the Home Office. It has planned for a period of two years to process applications and will one of the biggest administrative projects ever taken on by the Home Office. There is planned to be a two-year phase after Brexit where EU citizens already residing in the UK will be able to apply for the "settled status". But the future is less clear for those who arrive now and in the near future. The settled status has been designed for those who have been here more than 5 years. The government has said that it will allow those with less than 5 years time to stay in order to get to the 5-year point. But it appears that after this point EU citizens will have to apply through visa routes to enter the UK and may not be eligible for welfare or health benefits.
The news is a mixed bag. For those who have been in the UK for several years, it seems that their futures have been sorted. But for those looking to come to the UK in the future, it appears that the current routes will no longer be available to them, and this is likely to have a knock on effect on the British economy. Though preferential visa routes have been proposed by several reports to the government, so far all of them have been ignored. Though with the issues around trade yet to be sorted, this may all just be posturing to strengthen the UK's negotiating hand.