Nearly 30,000 EU nationals applied to become British citizens in the 12 months after last summer's Brexit vote - almost double the number of the previous year. Home Office statistics show 28,502 such applications between July 2016 and June 2017, up 80% from 15,871 in 2015-2016.
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It is expected that transitional arrangements will be made regarding the status of EEA citizens for when the UK leaves the EU. However the nature and scope of such arrangements remain unknown. Throughout the negotiations, the UK Government is remaining focused on providing certainty, clarity and stability for EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.
EEA nationals currently have the right to come and live or work or study in the UK without any restrictions. The category of qualified people includes jobseekers, workers, self-employed and self-sufficient people and students.
Family members, whether European nationals themselves or not, can come with or join an EEA National, subject to certain restrictions. There are two groups of family members: immediate and wider family. Family members of a qualified person may also retain their rights to residence in the UK even where the qualified person dies or a marriage or partnership breaks down.
EEA nationals and their family members are entitled to a document certifying their immigration status in the UK. After five years residence in the UK in accordance with the EEA Regulations, EEA nationals and their family members can apply for permanent residence and then later, British citizenship (if eligible to hold dual nationality).
As part of its negotiating strategy, the UK government has offered guaranteed rights of return for settled EU citizens in the UK who leave the UK, in return for onward movement rights for UK nationals living in the EU27. If the EU agrees to this, it would mean that as an EU citizen with settled status, you could leave the UK for more than 2 years without your status being affected. In return, as a UK national living in the EU, you would be able to move within the other Member States, as now. However, with the EU in a bullish frame of mind, it remains to be seen the outcome of negotiations as they relate to EU nationals.