The reciprocal right of free movement within the European Union has been enjoyed by millions of British nationals who have been able to live or settle elsewhere in Europe and by all those who have chosen to make the UK their home. Workers have been protected because no worker has depended on their employer for their rights. And obstacles to integration and settlement have been removed altogether. The system has worked because it has removed red tape and is embedded in principles of trust and opportunity.

As Freedom of Movement comes to an end, the government has placed the burden on European nationals to register for Settled Status, rather than automatically guaranteeing it. This will almost certainly result in hundreds of thousands of them becoming undocumented and losing their right to work, to access medical treatment or to live with their families and being criminalised as overstayers.

We owe it to our nearly four million European friends, neighbours, partners and colleagues to ensure that their rights are protected, just as we would like to see the rights of British nationals in Europe guaranteed.

"I feel insulted, anxious. This is where my home is and now I have to apply to stay here. And nobody can give me a guarantee that it will all be ok."

Eleanor (quoted in our Briefing on the Settled Status scheme, pdf)

Our recommendations:

  • Change the law so that no EEA citizen or family member is left undocumented and criminalised because they didn’t apply for Settled Status
  • Grant all EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members currently living in the UK automatic Settled Status
  • Provide physical documentation to all EU citizens and non-EU family members as proof of settled status

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