The new British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has written to the European Union’s Brexit co-ordinator to set out some concerns about how British expats will be treated after Brexit.
He has told Guy Verhofstadt that it is ‘currently unclear’ what systems member states are creating to ensure the rights of UK citizens in their countries. The letter also spells out the steps Britain will take to ensure the rights of EU nationals.
And it asks for ‘reassurance’ as there are apparently few details forthcoming. ‘The UK Government also cares very deeply about the reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals living in the EU27 Member States,’ the letter says.
‘We are concerned that as yet we have seen little information about the practical arrangements for securing their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement,’ it adds.
It is estimated that 900,000 British citizens live in the EU and 3.2 million EU nationals live in Britain. With just over nine months until Brexit at the end of March 2019, the expat communities are worried about a lack of detailed information.
Javid also reveals in the letter that the plan is to have the registration scheme for EU nationals living in Britain reach by the end of this year. It means that those who have been in the country for five years by the end of 2020 will be able to apply for settled status. ‘Our default position will be to say ‘yes’ to applications,’ the letter says.
He also revealed that an online application system will be accessible from any computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet with internet access and as part of the process, applicants will be asked to confirm their identity.
The Home Office is developing an app that will mean people can confirm their ID and document authenticity without sending in documents or attending an appointment. Applicants will also be able to complete the ID stage through the post.
The letter also says that it is anticipated that applications between family members and dependants will be linked up to ensure ‘consistency of approach’ but the Home Office is proposing that individual family members should apply on separate forms, ‘reflecting the many different circumstances of modern families’.
Applicants will be asked to disclose any criminal record, including overseas convictions. ‘Where the applicant’s conduct meets the conditions set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, their application for leave under the settlement scheme may be refused and deportation action considered,’ ‘it adds.
But Javid is concerned about a lack of similar details from EU nations relating to British expats. The UK Government is equally committed to the interests of UK nationals living and working in the EU, and we would welcome further details on how the administrative procedures will be enacted in other Member States,’ the letter states.
‘It is currently unclear what systems other EU Member States are creating to ensure the rights of UK nationals in their countries are protected after the end of the implementation period and we would welcome it if the European Parliament were also willing to focus attention on Member States,’ it continues.
A copy of the letter has gone to Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU in Britain.