Portuguese citizens living and working in Britain have until March 29 to secure their current rights in the case that the United Kingdom crashes out of the European Union without a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
Only those Portuguese that have entered the UK before the 29 March will be able to obtain residency instead of the 2020 date originally foreseen under the transition deal that had been brokered by Theresa May in Brussels.
“If there is no agreement, the key date is 29 March from which date the United Kingdom will become a third party country,” explained the Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva at a press conference in Lisbon last week.
The minister was speaking alongside the Minister for Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita to present a contingency plan on the rights of citizens — both Portuguese in the United Kingdom and British citizens living in Portugal, should Theresa May’s agreement be turned down in the House of Commons on Tuesday (tomorrow).
“They (the Portuguese in the UK) must secure their rights by 29 March and those that have done so before that date will have their rights respected,” he said.
Once they have entered the country before March 29 with the intention to reside and work, they will have until 31 December 2020 to register formally.
In other words, even under a no-deal scenario, they will have a further 18 months to complete all the steps that citizens already registered as resident in the United Kingdom up to 29 March have completed (i.e obtained a residency card or have a document of preregistration).
In addition to the right of residency, their professional qualifications, social rights, circulation, healthcare among others will also be respected.
“The recognition of the qualifications of Portuguese citizens obtained prior to 29 March 2019 are valid and will be respected after that date and those who have not yet validated those qualifications should consult the British authorities,” he said.
The contingency plan now announced represents a “number of unilateral and temporary measures that are binding should there be reciprocity on the part of the United Kingdom”.