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'Agreement' on citizens' rights

UK and EU negotiators agreed to move Brexit negotiations onto the 'second phase' of discussions following an agreement on 8 December 2017 that 'sufficient progress' had been made on the three key areas of citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial commitments and the Irish border. A joint report was published, outlining an agreement in principle on these three key areas.

While this is not the 'final' Brexit deal (the UK government has stated that 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed'), the progress made so far should be viewed as a step in the right direction.

Talks on the second phase started in early February 2018. At these talks, UK and EU negotiators will focus on the UK-EU relationship on the two year period after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

The information below focuses on the progress that has been made in the negotiations so far, and specifically, the 'agreement' reached on citizens' rights. It intends to provide BMA members, and in particular, our members from EU countries who are currently based in the UK, with further information about what the Brexit negotiations mean for them, their family members, and next steps.

Read our blog: Status settled? The outlook on citizens' rights post Brexit


  • Citizens’ rights

    In December 2017, UK and EU negotiators reached an agreement in principle that the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living in Europe would be granted reciprocal protection following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

    These assurances should provide EU citizens with greater confidence about their future in the UK, and more certainty to the thousands of EU nationals working within the health and social care sector about their futures here.

  • What the agreement means for doctors from EU countries currently in the UK

    The agreement will mean that an individual’s rights as currently enshrined in EU law will remain in place until 2019. After this point, these rights will become part of UK law.

    This includes the right to bring family to live in the UK. For example, EU citizens living in the UK before the withdrawal date of 29 March 2019 will be able to rely on EU law to bring family members to the UK after withdrawal, as long as their relationship with that family member existed before the 29 March 2019.

  • EU settlement scheme

    The draft Withdrawal Agreement published in March 2018, set out that EU nationals and their family members residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be able to continue to live and work in the UK permanently.

    The UK Government have developed a scheme for EU nationals to apply for residence that will be rolled out on a trial basis in the autumn and be fully operational by March 2019.

    Although EU nationals do not need to do anything right now, the Home Office has since published a Statement of intent – giving us more detail on what the scheme will look like.

    Who can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?

    EU nationals and their family members resident in the UK before the end of the ‘implementation period’ on 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for UK immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

    Which scheme do they apply for?

    You will have the choice of two schemes, depending on how long you have been resident in the UK. These are the ‘settled status’ and ‘pre-settled status’ scheme.

    • If you have lived in the UK continuously for five years you can apply for settled status. This will enable you to stay indefinitely.
    • If you have not completed 5 years continuous residence  you can apply for pre-settled status. This status will be granted under UK domestic immigration law.

    You and your family members with either status will have the same access as you currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.

    What does the EU Settlement scheme involve?

    You will need to complete three sections to:

    • prove your identity
    • show that you live here
    • declare that you have no serious criminal convictions.

    How much does it cost?

    • £65 for adults
    • £32.50 for children under 16.

    If you already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation will not have to pay a fee. The deadline to submit applications is the 30 June 2021.

  • Doctors who are considering coming to the UK after the UK leaves the EU

    UK and EU negotiators began discussions on the transition phase in February 2018 and further clarity on the rights of EU nationals arriving in the UK after March 2019 will be clarified in due course.

    The UK Government has indicated that during the transitional period, which will start on 29th March 2019, and is expected to last for up to two years, EU nationals will be eligible to enter the UK freely, but will be obliged to register their status.

    EU nationals who enter the UK after the 29 March 2019 will be allowed to keep this registered status for a maximum of two years after which they’ll have to apply to remain under new domestic immigration rules which are yet undefined.

  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

    We are aware of concerns amongst our EU members about what the Brexit process means for the recognition of their professional qualifications, and their ability to work in the UK in the future.

    The agreement in principle, which was reached in December 2017, clarifies that qualifications granted either in the UK or in any other EU member state before 29th March 2019, will continue to be recognised and maintained, despite a change in law.

    Further clarification on mutual recognition of professional qualifications gained after 29th March 2019 will form part of the second phase of Brexit negotiations. Greater clarity is expected in due course.