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Business responds to May’s offer to EU citizens

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of its proposed offer to EU citizens in the UK, London First has been quick to voice the response of business.

Having long called on government to guarantee rights of our EU citizens, we welcomed the first signs of this commitment. Yet, uncertainty remains.  CEO Jasmine Whitbread showed business’ support for May’s initial steps, but pressed for clarity around cut-off dates.

The current proposal outlines:

  • EU citizens will gain “settled status”, with equivalent residency, employment, health, welfare and pensions rights as UK citizens, after five years in the country.
  • The cut-off date before which EU citizens would need to have arrived to qualify for the offer is TBC – but will be between 29 March 2017, when article 50 was triggered, and March 2019, the end of the Brexit process
  • There will be a “two-year grace period” for people to prove they arrived before that cut-off point.
  • The application process for “settled status” will be streamlined – the current 85-page application form [for residency] will be replaced.

In a series of interviews with national media, Jasmine warned of the continued threat to business if questions remain unanswered. A year on from the referendum results, business has had to set out contingency plans for its offices and workforce. These plans will become reality if uncertainty for EU citizens goes on. Jasmine reiterated the negative impact not only on individuals, but on business and the UK economy.

We have responded with views from business:

  • The cut-off date must be March 2019, to give business and EU citizens time to adapt.
  • It is concerning that all EU citizens in the UK need to re-apply for settled status, even those that have been here for many years and already have permanent residence.  This seems heavy handed and unnecessary.
  • The future application process needs to be streamlined and government must design something that utilises modern technology and shares data easily across relevant departments. The application process also needs to be at a nominal cost to the applicant – cost shouldn’t be a barrier.
  • A resolution must be arrived at quickly – uncertainty is not good for business recruitment or people’s lives.


London First has been shaping a new, managed immigration process that works for business and keeps our capital open to talent. We have placed the offer on the table, and now look to government to make the right moves.

We will continue to work with members to push for decisive government action that will keep the UK globally competitive.

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