How does Brexit affect Irish citizens in the UK?

The UK government’s policy is that Brexit will not affect Irish nationals at all. Other EU citizens have to apply for a new “settled status” or risk losing their right to live and work in the UK after June 2021.

The government has set up an application system for EU residents to get “settled status”, allowing them to continue living and working in the UK after Brexit. Irish citizens are in a unique position when it comes to the settled status scheme: unlike all other EU citizens, they may apply for it but do not have to. That is because:

  • On one hand, Ireland is part of the EU, and settled status is open to all EU citizens
  • On the other hand, Irish citizens already have the special treatment outlined above and do not need an additional guarantee of their rights

Irish citizens may wish to apply for settled status if they think it is a realistic possibility that the UK would change its laws or policies to deprive them of Common Travel Area rights in the absence of a binding treaty. 

In particular, Irish citizens with non-European family members may find that applying will help their family member’s application. The non-EU family member of an Irish citizen can apply for settled status without the Irish citizen applying, but would have to show that the Irish citizen would have been granted settled status if they had applied. There are also special arrangements for Irish citizens from Northern Ireland who have non-EU family members.

The deadline for settled status applications is 30 June 2021.

Posted on Nov 20, 2020.

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