Monthly wrap: Key things to know about applying for residency in the EU before December 31st

Currencies Direct September 10th 2020 - 3 minute read

The UK will end its transition period from the European Union (EU) on 31st December 2020, and while uncertainties escalate over the coronavirus pandemic and Britain’s post-Brexit economy, confusion remains over EU residency rights.

Tens of thousands of Brits, both at home and abroad, are now applying to secure or retain their residency rights within the EU.

It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a great deal of uncertainty over what happens on that important date – 31st December 2020.

Here are some of the key things you’ll need to consider before applying for residency in the EU ahead of the looming December 31st deadline.

Is there a minimum duration for residency in an EU country before 31st December 2020?

No, is the short answer. Fortunately, you’ll be well covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

If you have lived legally in your host country before the end of the transition period, your rights will be covered by the freedom of movement rules.

The WA covers pretty much every sort of residence. It also takes into consideration whether you’re self-employed, employed; self-sufficient or a student relying on external income. Also covered is residence as a family member.

Additionally, residency remains the same for those seeking employment (though in some instances this may be subject to your home nation’s unique rules).

When is the final date I can apply for residency in the EU?

Provided you have legally lived in the EU country you intend to reside in before 1st January 2021, and can prove it, when the transition phase comes to an end UK nationals have until 30 June 2021 to apply for residence status, whether it is ordinary or permanent residency.

So far, reports have suggested UK nationals are struggling to register for residency in some member states. However, with the deadline in the middle of next year and the EU Commission promising to increase its support, things should become easier for British expats to register for residency.

Will I need to be physically in the EU?

You will not need to be physically present in the European Union at the end of the transition period, as long as you remain a legal resident on that day, you will be covered by the WA.

In fact, once you’ve acquired your permanent residency under the WA, you’re allowed to be away from your host country for 5 years and still return with your rights intact.

Will I retain free movement rules?

As mentioned, if you already hold a permanent residence status, you’ll secure free movement rules come December 31st, although this is still dependent on the UK granting visa-free travel to EU citizens.

However, if you’re an ordinary resident you can be away for no more than 6 months each year without losing your resident status – but, once permanent residency is secured, you’ll have the 5-year limit under the WA.

What happens after the transition phase ends on December 31st?

For those that don’t meet any of the EU residency criteria, or anyone looking to move after 31st December 2020, the right to live or work in the EU stops.

From that point on UK nationals will be subject to the specific country’s existing immigration law, or any government agreements that take place in future.

What happens in the event of no UK-EU trade deal by the end of 2020?

In the event of no UK-EU trade deal by the end of 2020, anyone who legally lived or worked in the EU before the 31st December deadline will still have their rights guaranteed by the WA. So, even if there is a no-deal Brexit, the WA protects UK nationals’ rights to apply for residency status.

Remember the important dates

Although in many ways residency rights and securing ‘settled status’ is relatively straightforward post-Brexit, the impact on the economy and for businesses is yet to be agreed.

Nevertheless, deadlines are a crucial factor to keep in mind when applying for residency in the EU.

Currently, 13 countries have adopted a constitutive system for applications for residency applications. According to the European Commission “countries with a constitutive system must apply for a new residence status”, in other words your residency won’t be automatically renewed or retained and will require direct action on your part.

Importantly, if you miss the deadline to apply for new status under the Withdrawal Agreement – or your application is unsuccessful – you will have no residence status and, as a result, no legal right to reside in your host country.

Consequently, if your chosen country runs a constitutive scheme, then it is critical you meet the deadline for new residence status.

Fortunately, this can extend beyond the December 31st deadline, with countries having extended the deadline 6-months beyond the end of the transition period to the end of June, or some countries even up to a year.

Written by
Currencies Direct

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