EU and EEA citizens in Scotland

We believe that remaining in the EU and the single market, and continuing to benefit from the free movement of persons, is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK as a whole. Not only does Scotland (and the UK) benefit enormously from the contribution made by citizens of other EU countries, but we also benefit from the opportunity that free movement gives to Scots to live and work in other EU countries.

We are particularly concerned about protecting the rights of family members of EU citizens, the processes of applying for new settled status in the UK, and continued access to independent judicial redress.

We will do all we can to support the 223,000 EU citizens living in Scotland through this difficult time, and we will continue to push the UK Government to do the same.

EU and EEA citizens' rights

We recognise that this is a difficult time for EU and EEA citizens living in Scotland, many of whom have lived here for decades and built lives here with their families. EU and EEA citizens are understandably concerned about their future rights and status.

On 14 November 2018 the UK and EU agreed a draft withdrawal agreement text which was approved by the European Council on 25 November. The agreement includes a transition period after the UK leaves the EU. The agreement extends to EU citizens and their families who come to the UK during this transition period. You can find the full text of the agreement here.

On 6 December 2018 the UK Government published a policy paper setting out how the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK when the UK leaves the EU would be protected if no deal is reached with the EU.

EU Settlement Scheme

On 15 June 2018 Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford wrote a joint letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to highlight shared concerns over the EU Settlement Scheme. They expressed their concerns about people who may be at risk of missing out on settled status simply due to being unable to, or unaware that they can and need to apply.

On 21 June 2018 the UK Government provided details on the Settlement Scheme for EU citizens.

In October 2017 the First Minister made a public commitment to meet the cost of settled status applications for EU citizens working in the devolved public services in Scotland. This later became a Programme for Government commitment. On 21 January 2019, UK Prime Minister announced that there would be no fee. This now means that the initially proposed £65 fee for applying for settled status no longer applies.

Supporting EU citizens in Scotland

We want EU and EEA citizens and their families to continue to make their lives here in Scotland. We have set out our position in:

All four publications make it clear that we believe the UK should remain in the European single market and continue to benefit from the free movement of people.

The First Minister, in her open letter to EU citizens immediately after the referendum, called on the UK Government to provide assurances that those living here would have their rights protected and to make it clear that Scotland remains a stable and open place to live, study, work and do business. The First Minister has written another open letter to all EU citizens in Scotland in April 2019, telling them how much we value their contribution and urging them to stay in Scotland.

As well as publicly stating our desire for EU citizens to remain in Scotland, we have produced the 'Stay in Scotland' package of practical support and advice. This package includes a range of resources to support EU citizens and employers with EU staff, as well as £250,000 of dedicated resource for community based support across Scotland. 

The package also includes the EU Citizens Support service, run by Citizens Advice Scotland - a free, specialist support service provided by Citizens Advice Scotland for anyone affected by the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme .

As part of the EU Citizens Support service, you can also contact a specialist helpline for free, confidential advice on 0800 916 9847. Lines are open:

  • Monday and Friday mornings from 9am to 1pm
  • Wednesday afternoons from 1pm to 5pm

See also: EU citizens living in Scotland after EU exit  

Other resources

UK Government resources

European Commission resources

Legal assistance


Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population

UK Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reports