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Home Office reassures Irish citizens in UK

Category:

brexit

Irish citizens’ right of residence will not be affected by Brexit, Home Office tells Irish in Britain

Home Office logoAfter a recent tribunal case in Northern Ireland in which an Irish citizen was told by a Home Office presenting officer that it did not accept that Irish citizens are settled in the UK, the Home Office has clarified and stated that in fact Irish citizens’ rights in UK are guaranteed.

The mistaken statement by the original Home Office official was highlighted on Twitter by Conor James McKinney, deputy editor at the website Free Movement, which provides news and analysis of immigration and asylum legal issues. 

It inferred that the long–standing free travel movement agreement between the UK and Ireland could be undermined by changes resulting from Brexit. The comments also contradicted reassurances given to Irish citizens living and working in the UK that their status would be unaffected by Brexit and that they had no need to apply for “settled” status.

When approached by Irish in Britain on Friday 10 August the Home Office confirmed that their official had been wrong and clarified the position of Irish citizens to us saying:

“Irish citizens enjoy a right of residence in the UK which is provided for under domestic Common Travel Area arrangements; this is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU.

“This right will be protected as the UK leaves the EU. Irish citizens in the UK are not required to do anything to protect their status.” 

This legal clarification will be reassuring to the many Irish citizens who live in the UK who have been anxious to hear confirmation that the agreement under which they can freely live and work in the UK will not be affected by Brexit.

The Home Office is also quoted on Free Movement saying in response to the error: 

“Irish citizens have a special status in the UK. The rights of Irish citizens in the UK are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949 but also provided for in subsequent legislation. These rights include the right to enter and remain without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission. 

“Irish citizens are treated as settled from the date they take up ordinary residence in the UK. They are considered to be settled as they are free from any restriction on the period for which they may remain—paragraph 6 of HC 395.

“The rights of Irish citizens will be protected as the UK leaves the EU. The Home Office Statement of Intent for the EU Settlement Scheme issued on 21 June 2018 stated: 2.6. Irish citizens enjoy a right of residence in the UK that is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU. They will not be required to apply for status under the scheme (but may do so if they wish), and their eligible family members (who are not Irish citizens or British citizens) will be able to obtain status under the scheme without the Irish citizen doing so.”

This clarity is welcome and so is the assurance from the Home Office that “in order to prevent a mistake of this nature happening again an instruction on this issue has been reissued.” 

With thanks to Conor James McKinney at freemovement.org.uk for highlighting this case.