What is the change? In the House of Lords, peers voted across party lines to pass an amendment to the Brexit bill guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals currently in the U.K.

What does the change mean? The amendment was not in the government’s version of the bill, and would require the government to ensure the rights of EU citizens and their family members currently in the U.K. and their rights to residency post-Brexit. The House of Commons previously rejected a similar amendment.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Rights under EU freedom of movement laws.
  • Who is affected: EU and EEA nationals and their family members legally residing in the U.K.
  • Business impact: The amendment would provide much-needed certainty to European nationals currently living and working in the U.K.
  • Next steps: The Brexit bill will now pass back to the House of Commons for further debate of the amendment.

Background: The amendment says that within three months of triggering Article 50 exit procedures, the government must introduce proposals to ensure that EU and EEA citizens and their family members who are legally resident in the U.K. as of the date of the bill’s enactment “continue to be treated the same way with regards to their EU-derived rights, and, in the case of residency, their potential to acquire such rights in the future.”

BAL Analysis: While the House of Lords cannot ultimately stop the government’s Brexit bill or insist on the amendment, it can delay the triggering of Article 50 (expected mid- to late March) as the bill enters “ping pong” mode between the two parliamentary houses. The amendment recognizes the U.K.’s responsibility to protect the estimated 3 million Europeans currently in the U.K. and provides a legal framework in which to guarantee that rights are established as early as possible ahead of any Brexit cutoff date. To date, the government has given broad reassurances that they have no intention of treating EEA nationals already in the UK “with anything other than respect,” but has stopped short of offering any guarantee unless and until U.K. citizens currently in other EU countries are assured reciprocal rights. BAL is following developments and will provide updates as the Brexit bill proceeds through Parliament.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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