The European Economic Area (EEA) is a free trade zone that comprises 31 countries, including the 27 European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The EEA citizens have the same rights as EU citizens when it comes to living, working, and studying in any of the member states. However, the UK`s departure from the EU had significant implications for EEA citizens in the UK.
On January 1, 2021, the UK government implemented the EEA citizens` rights agreement, which outlined the rights of EEA citizens who were residing in the UK before December 31, 2020. The agreement also extended to Swiss citizens. The agreement aims to protect the rights of EEA citizens in the UK and ensure they can continue to live, work, and study in the country.
Under the agreement, EEA citizens and their families who were resident in the UK before December 31, 2020, can apply for settled status or pre-settled status. Settled status is for EEA citizens who have been living in the UK for at least five years, while pre-settled status is for those who have been living in the UK for less than five years. The status grants EEA citizens the right to stay in the UK after Brexit and access public services, including healthcare, education, and social security.
The agreement also protects the rights of EEA citizens who are studying in the UK. EEA students who started their courses before August 31, 2021, are eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status. Those who start their courses after August 31, 2021, will need to apply for a student visa to study in the UK.
Additionally, the agreement outlines the rights of EEA citizens who work in the UK. EEA citizens who were employed in the UK before December 31, 2020, can continue working in the UK without having to apply for a visa. However, EEA citizens who arrive in the UK after December 31, 2020, will need a visa to work in the country.
In conclusion, the EEA citizens` rights agreement ensures that EEA citizens who were living in the UK before December 31, 2020, can continue to live, work, and study in the country without any disruption after Brexit. The agreement provides EEA citizens with the same rights as EU citizens in the UK and protects their access to public services and employment opportunities. EEA citizens who are unsure about their status in the UK should seek advice from the UK government`s settlement scheme.