Our right to return to the UK with our non-UK families

British in Europe have long been lobbying Westminster about issues  affecting UK in EU within the UK Immigration Bill. This is crucial legislation for us as it removes our existing right to return to Britain with our non-UK families. From March 2022 they will come under the tough British immigration rules, meaning that we will have to be earning £18,600 a year and our partner’s income will only count if s/he has been earning in the UK for more than six months.

When we moved to the EU/EEA we did so expecting to keep our rights for life and, if necessary, to return to Britain with our non-UK families. Our loss of this right could make it impossible, for those of us with family members of a different nationality, to go back to look after elderly parents – unless we are prepared to live apart from our partners. While Britons, legally resident in the EU before the end of the transition period, will face these restrictions, EU citizens who have moved to the UK before 1 January 2021 will not. Under the Withdrawal Agreement they can bring existing family members to the UK for life, as well as keeping their right to return to their country of birth with the families they have made in their new homes. The perverse result is that the UK government’s approach will discriminate against its own citizens.

Next week, on 30 September in the House of Lords, there will be a debate at the Report Stage of the Immigration Bill and we would like peers to vote for the amendment that will be put forward for BiE.

You can help us by writing to a peer and encouraging your family to do the same – see below an outline and a list of peers. Your emails / letters must reach them in time to be read so aim to have them with them by Tuesday 29th September latest, but earlier is better.


Here are some ideas for those living in the EU to use. Please get your UK-based families to write as well, adapting it to their situation – especially if they are a parent of a UK national in the EU who is worried about facing old age and possible infirmity without their child being there to care for them.

  • I am writing to ask you to support British in Europe’s amendment to the Immigration Bill which would reverse a change in the law that is causing me, and thousands of others in my position, great anxiety for my family’s future.
  • Describe briefly who you are.
    Example: you are a British citizen living in Germany with your German husband and your children; you have parents in the UK who may well need care as they become older and more frail in future; your husband has parents in Germany who may also need future care. Describe your own situation here and give more details if you can. Say more about how you feel about the dilemma that you may face in future.
  • Like all other British citizens who moved to the EU while Britain was a member, I had – and expected to keep – an almost unfettered right to return to the UK with my family. At the time I left the UK, my parents were safe in the knowledge that I could always come back should the need arise.
  • Many of us met a non-UK partner while in the EU and made a family with them believing, rightly, that our family would remain united wherever we lived.
  • Unless this Bill is amended this right will be removed on March 29th 2022, creating impossible choices for me and thousands of families like mine and even more Skype children. See the BiE briefing paper for more details.
  • The Government’s answer is that they have given us fifteen months from the end of transition to return with our families to the UK. Even ignoring the massive practical difficulties of uprooting adults from work and children from school at a time when there may be no need to do so, as Baroness Hamwee put it so well in Committee:
    “I simply ask the Minister what she would advise a couple, one British and one an EU national, who both have elderly parents. She is suggesting that they should pick between them for future care by the end of 2022. Is this really a humane approach?”

Find a list of recommended peers here.