Polish government prepares Brexit bill on rights of Britons in Poland

"Vote Leave" poster which appeared across the UK to encourage people to vote for Brexit. Kenneth Allen under Creative commons attribution-share licence/Wikipedia

The Polish government has prepared a bill regulating the immigration status of British citizens residing in Poland after the UK’s planned departure from the European Union in March.

PAP has learned from its sources in the Polish administration that work on legislation, which will regulate the immigration status of British residents in Poland and is part of wider preparations for Brexit, began in the second half of last year. 

The sources said the draft was authored jointly by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office for Foreigners.

The 25-page draft, which appears on the website of the Government Legislation Centre, outlines the new legal framework that will regulate the residence status of about 6,000 British citizens living in Poland after Britain leaves and are deprived of their EU citizenship.

British PM Teresa May has so far refused to comment on the fate of Brits living abroad post Brexit. PAP/EPA

The document envisages that once the United Kingdom leaves at midnight on March 29-30 this year, Britons living in Poland will have 12 months, until March 30, 2020, to confirm their rights by obtaining a temporary residence permit or permanent residence in the country. Applications registered after this date will not be considered.

All British citizens and their family members who have legally resided in Poland until the UK's departure from the European Union will have the right to submit an application.

Persons who have resided in Poland for more than five years will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit, or otherwise, for a temporary residence permit that will be valid for three years, after which it will be necessary for them to acquire further rights under the rules that apply to all foreigners from third countries.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (L) and British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) during a joint press conference following the British-Polish intergovernmental consultations in London, Britain, 20 December 2018PAP/EPA

The bill does makes no mention of the possible costs of the application.

After obtaining a positive decision, the applicant will receive a residence card with the special annotation "Brexit".

The proposed system ensures the preservation of, among other entitlements, the right to stay and work in Poland, on similar terms as Polish citizens. However, the bill does not include access to the pension system, which will probably be regulated in a separate way.

In the coming weeks other government departments will have the chance to discuss the proposed legislation along with organisations such as the British-Polish Chamber of Commerce, so changes may still be made to it.