Theresa May: EU citizens must bring family to the UK pre-Brexit

Helen Cahill
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May first announced her plans for EU citizens last week (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister Theresa May has told the House of Commons EU citizens living with "settled status" in the UK must bring their family members to the country before Brexit or face more difficult immigration hurdles.

May addressed MPs about her plans for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, saying she is seeking "to give reassurances to EU citizens who have made their homes and lives in our country".

No EU citizen will be required to leave when the UK exits the bloc, and those who have lived in the UK for five years will be able to apply for "settled status".

Read more: Donald Tusk says PM's Brexit EU citizens offer is "below our expectations"

However, family dependents joining EU nationals in the UK after Brexit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens arriving after a set cut-off date.

To avoid a "cliff edge" for those applying for the right to stay in the UK, EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than five years at the specified date will be able to continue living and working in the UK.

They will be able to apply for temporary residency after a "grace period" of two years has passed, and will be able to apply for settled status after five years.

The cut-off date has not been determined yet, but it will be between 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2019.

May said her proposals had been received positively by leaders she spoke to in the EU last week, but added the agreement "must be reciprocal".

However, some voices on the continent were not enthusiastic last Friday. EU council president Donald Tusk said the offer was "below expectations", and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was a "good start" but "not a breakthrough" in the negotiations.

Thousands of EU nationals have already started applying for permanent residence in the UK following the Brexit vote, but these proposals will mean they have to start again. The government has promised the process will be "as streamlined as possible".

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