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EU citizens to face visa curbs similar to Indians post-Brexit

May’s plans are of interest to tens of thousands of people from Goa, Daman and Diu, who have moved here after surrendering their Indian passports and opting for Portuguese citizenship. From March 2019, such individuals will be subject to new terms to move here.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2017 20:47 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Protesters wearing German and French flags on their masks during a demonstration in London in February as part of a national day of action in support of migrants in the UK.
Protesters wearing German and French flags on their masks during a demonstration in London in February as part of a national day of action in support of migrants in the UK. (AFP)

EU citizens will face immigration controls similar to those currently faced by Indian and other non-EU citizens after Britain formally leaves the 28-nation group in March 2019, when they will no longer be able to use the principle of ‘free movement’ to move here.

Prime Minister Theresa May outlined a series of plans in a 15-page document in the House of Commons on Monday. They are proposals at this stage and will need to be agreed in talks in Brussels. Any agreement will also include the terms of future stay of British citizens in other EU countries.

May’s plans are of interest to tens of thousands of people from Goa, Daman and Diu, who have moved here after surrendering their Indian passports and opting for Portuguese citizenship. From March 2019, such individuals will be subject to new terms to move here.

May’s plans include every EU citizen resident here needing to apply and obtain ‘settled status’ called the ‘indefinite leave to remain’, which is applicable to Indian and other non-EU citizens. It can be obtained after five years of stay in Britain without committing criminal offence.

The document did not mention any cut-off date from when the new rules will apply to EU citizens, but it is likely to be “no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

The cut-off date will also need to be finalised during talks in Brussels. May’s proposals promised a ‘light-touch’ online system to process the millions of applications for ‘settled status’ from EU citizens who complete the five-year period. After acquiring the status, they will be treated on par with UK citizens for various benefits.

Significantly, after Brexit, EU citizens will no longer be able to freely bring their non-EU spouses to Britain. The document makes it clear that after Brexit, they will be subject to the same rules as UK citizens, who need to have a minimum salary of 18,600 pounds to sponsor a non-EU spouse.

The EU citizens who arrive here before March 2019 – the expected date of completion of Brexit – will be given a grace period to allow them to complete the five-year qualifying period to obtain the ‘settled status’.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May’s offer to EU citizens was "too little too late", and one that "could have been done and should have been done" a year ago. "This isn't a generous offer," he added.