UK releases no-deal paper on expatriate rights

The UK government has finally released a paper about the rights of Britons in the EU and EU citizens in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

10 December 2018
By Oliver Rowland

'Continuing to pay an uprated UK state pension to eligible UK nationals living in the EU' in the event of a no-deal Brexit is among 'certain rights of UK nationals in the EU' that the UK would wish to preserve, it says.

This clarification, relating to matters in the UK's control, would be subject to reciprocity the UK says (ie. EU pensioners continuing to receive their full pensions in the UK). The statement comes in a new policy document on citizens’ rights  which was released in a separate part of its website from its wide-ranging collection of other papers on preparing for the no-deal scenario.

The paper also says that (as previously stated) it would aim for healthcare arrangements for British state pensioners in the EU to continue to operate via reciprocal agreements, whether with the EU as a whole or individual member countries such as France. The same would apply to other ‘social security coordination’ matters (such as the right to claim ‘exported’ disability benefits in France or benefit from pension aggregation), it says.

In the case of a no-deal, the UK would continue to seek agreements with EU states giving UK nationals the right to vote and stand in local elections, as it will also do in the case of a deal. As a show of good faith, it confirms that EU citizens in the UK will be able to vote and stand in local British elections in May 2019.

Also relevant to Britons in France, who have been told that France will look closely at how French people are treated in the UK, is the fact that the paper confirms that the UK would wish to maintain most of the benefits of the draft withdrawal agreement for EU citizens settled in the UK before Brexit day.

“They will be able to stay and carry on with their lives broadly as now," the paper says. "They will continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after we exit the EU as they do now". Entitlements would be subject to any future UK legal changes that also affect UK nationals.

This would be subject to the same rules and application process for qualifying to stay as would apply in the case of the withdrawal agreement ('deal') and the EU citizens would be allowed to leave the UK for up to five years without losing the status, as under the deal.

However there are some differences: in the event of no-deal there would be no transition period and those living in the UK before Brexit would have to apply for ‘settled status’ by the end of 2020 (in the event of a deal, there would be a grace period for this until the end of June, 2021).

Another difference is more restrictions on the ability of EU citizens in the UK to bring other family to the UK.

  • The withdrawal agreement protects the rights of family members granted rights under EU law, including dependent parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren as well as current spouses and civil partners and informal partners with whom they are in an long-term relationship before the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020). If they do not currently live with them in France these people could also join them in the future.
    Future children would be protected, however people they may marry after the transition period, for example, would not be covered and would be subject to ordinary UK immigration laws.
  • In the no-deal scenario EU citizens would be able to bring over family members and partners with whom the relationship existed as of March 29, 2019 (Brexit day) during a three-year grace period to March 29, 2022. ‘Future’ spouses and partners and dependent relatives (where the relationship starts after Brexit day) would be able to come until the end of 2020. After the cut-off dates ordinary UK immigration laws would apply.

As for Britons in EU countries such as France, the paper says that the withdrawal agreement is the only way the UK government can guarantee the rights of Britons in the EU but it says that its objective would be that UK nationals should ‘continue to live their lives broadly as they do now’.

The UK urges other member states to continue to protect Britons rights in areas including “employment, healthcare, education, benefits and services”.

If some British people are nonetheless unable to continue living in EU countries after a no-deal Brexit, the UK says:

  • UK nationals who return permanently in a no-deal would have access to the NHS on the same basis as UK nationals already living there
  • As for the right to bring EU (or non-EU) family members with them, the government recognises that this is “an important concern” and says it is “considering the support that could be offered and will set out further details in due course”.

With regard to accessing benefits and housing in the UK, people who have been claiming UK state pension or benefits from EU countries will continue to do so, and the government is considering what support could be offered to returning UK nationals with regard to new claims. Returning UK nationals would have the usual voting rights and access to eduction.

For further updates the UK recommends that Britons monitor the following information pages:
UK nationals in the EU: essential information

Living in France  

France travel advice 

The British embassy in Paris will also continue to offer outreach events.

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