I am an EU citizen with a non-EU spouse, currently expecting a long-term job offer from the UK. Therefore I am quite concerned about the potential effects of Brexit on us (especially my spouse).

The situation became somewhat more clear in the past days after the news about a UK-EU deal on citizens rights, see e.g.

However, the articles about this topic also raise several questions.

For example,

Anyone who arrives before Brexit day will have the right to stay.


The latest deal also includes reunification rights for relatives who do not live in the UK, to join them in the future.

But then there seem to be contradictory statements in the same article:

Nicolas Hatton, chairman of the3million, a campaign group representing EU citizens living in the UK, expressed concerns about the deal.

He said: "Our rights should not have an expiry date. More worryingly, there is still no clarity around the registration criteria for these rights. There are a huge number of people still in the dark about whether they will qualify or not. Hundreds and thousands of them might get a letter that they have to go" he added.

While it still doesn't seem to be a given that this deal will be honoured, I do not understand the concerns of Hatton. My reading of the article was that if I and my non-EU spouse were to move to the UK in 2018 (we are not currently there), both of us would be guaranteed the right to stay even after Brexit, in the same manner as we could go there today. (I am aware that there are limitations even under the current EU rules, such as sufficient income to support a non-EU spouse.)

Hatton contradicts this with his claim that many people still do not know if they will qualify.

Given that our expected rights and visa situation after Brexit is a significant factor in my accepting or declining this offer, I am looking for clarifications on the above.

  • 1
    This question is different from earlier Brexit-related ones because it concerns recent news about citizen's rights.
    – Gem
    Dec 9, 2017 at 15:43
  • 3
    Unfortunately, until there is an actual 'deal' that is signed sealed and delivered, it's very speculative what will actually be the final rules, how they will be implemented, and how the details concerning very specific situations will drawn out. There will only be clarification when the matter if finally settled.
    – ouflak
    Dec 9, 2017 at 20:15
  • The current EU rules do not require you to have sufficient income to support a non-EU family member. If you are employed, your family can join you in the UK regardless of your income.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2017 at 2:46
  • @phoog Thanks for the clarification. It was a wrong assumption based on the fact that currently I need to show payslips whenever my spouse needs to renew their residence card.
    – Gem
    Dec 11, 2017 at 14:51
  • @Gem under EU rules, you need to be a "qualified person," and one way of being qualified is to be employed. Presumably that's why they want your pay slips.
    – phoog
    Dec 11, 2017 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


The official joint report from the negotiations released on Friday states in relevant part (emphasis in original):

  1. The overall objective of the Withdrawal Agreement with respect to citizens' rights is to provide reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights by the specified date.


  1. The specified date should be the time of the UK's withdrawal.


  1. Irrespective of their nationality, the following categories of family members who were not residing in the host State on the specified date will be entitled to join a Union citizen or UK national right holder after the specified date for the life time of the right holder, on the same conditions as under current Union law:

    a. all family members as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2004/38/EC, provided they were related to the right holder on the specified date and they continue to be so related at the point they wish to join the right holder; ...

If this gets reflected in the final deal, then you would be entitled to have your current spouse join you in the UK and remain there with you indefinitely, as long as you have moved to the UK before the "specified" date somewhen in 2019.

One part of what the campaign groups are dissatisfied with is that this deal will not allow EU citizens in the UK to be joined by non-EU partners that they meet only after the UK leaves.

(There are also other points of dissatisfaction -- most prominently that it is felt to be unclear which bureaucratic hoops EU citizens in the UK will have to jump through in order to secure their future status. The UK government concurrently released an unilateral technical note about their high-level goals for the still-to-be-specified procedures, which doesn't look all that scary to me -- but I suppose the protests stem from fear of loopholes in the rather generic language there, by the "once bitten, twice shy" principle).

  • For example, there was a post by a British / Japanese couple, and your quoted point (a) would seem to include children born before Brexit, to not include children conceived after Brexit, and be very dubious for children conceived before and born after Brexit. Now imagine a couple living in the UK, they have a baby, and they are told "you can stay, but get rid of that kid".
    – gnasher729
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:39
  • @gnasher729: Item (b) just after the part I quoted provides that children born after the specified date would also be covered. Dec 16, 2017 at 13:29

News today was that the UK has agreed to pay major amounts of money to the EU, and has agreed to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open. That's two out of three, rights for EU citizens in the UK is the third one.

The position of the UK government so far can be characterized by utter cluelessness. There was some stuff coming out of Boris Johnson's mouth during a visit to Poland, which should be ignored like anyone he says. With today's news, I would bet that anyone who has Indefinite Leave to Remain on the day the UK exits the EU will have no problems.

However, for new arrivals, what was said is: There will be a "cut-off date". When the cut-off date will be is up to negotiations. But it will not be before the day the UK declared it will leave (March 2017) and not after the day the UK actually leaves (planned March 2019). Everyone before that cut-off date should be allowed to stay, everyone afterwards probably not. If you move to the UK today, nobody knows right now if your move will be before or after the cutoff date.

I would assume that when that cut-off date is announced, it won't be in the past (so if there was news say 1st March 2018 "cut-off date is today", that wouldn't surprise me too much. If they said "cut-off date is 1st March 2018" in December 2018, that would be surprising to me).

It's based on speculation, but I'd say: If you want to move, move quick. Make sure your job offer is good. Life in the UK is expensive, especially in London. Make sure that having to go back is an inconvenience, not a desaster.

  • By "permanent leave to remain" did you mean to indicate people with a right of residence under the EEA regulations? In precise terms "leave to remain" seems not to be used for them.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2017 at 2:49
  • Sorry - should have been "Indefinite leave to remain".
    – gnasher729
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:34
  • But EU/EEA/Swiss citizens generally don't have indefinite leave to remain under the immigration rules; they have a right of permanent residence under the EEA regulations. Furthermore, anyone who does have ILR under the rules will be unaffected by the UK's departure from the EU, regardless of nationality.
    – phoog
    Dec 12, 2017 at 4:33

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