Mrs May outlined her proposal at a private dinner with other EU leaders in Brussels.The UK offered to give a new “UK settled status” for EU citizens who have been living legally in the UK for at least five years “building careers and lives”. They would get education, health, benefits and pension rights for life. Those who have not yet reached five years would be entitled to stay on until they reach the threshold for settled status. But those arriving after an as-yet unspecified cut-off date would be given only a “grace period” – expected to be two years – to obtain a work permit or return to their home countries. UK citizens living abroad are expected getting a reciprocal deal from other EU states.
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The EU proposed instead that EU citizens in the UK and the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in EU countries should continue enjoying the same rights, enforceable by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). However, the UK proposal is considered a “good start” for negotiation. The situation of other categories of citizens must also be discussed. There are thought to be about 3.2 million EU citizens who have moved to the UK to live and work and about 1.2 million UK citizens who have left their home country being in the EU.