London - Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday promised to protect the "settled status" of EU citizens after Britain leaves the European Union, saying she wants to "do all we can to provide reassurance to the EU citizens who have made the UK their home."
"No families will be split up," May told parliament. "Family dependants who join a qualifying EU citizen here before the UK's exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years."
EU citizens will be able to bring family members
May spoke as her government published a "policy paper" outlining its planned safeguards for EU citizens after Brexit.
It says all EU citizens resident in Britain will be subject only to British law after Brexit, and not under the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, as requested by the EU.
May promised that after Brexit, EU citizens with settled status after at least five years of residency "will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals."
People who have arrived since a cut-off date, which will be during the two-year Brexit negotiating period, will be granted two years to "regularize their status," she said.
EU wants more guarantees
Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator said on Twitter that the bloc's goal was to attain the "same level of protection as in EU law."
Barnier called for "more ambition, clarity and guarantees" than published in today's policy paper.
The two sides are set to continue their negotiations over the terms of Britain's departure from the bloc on July 17.
May had outlined her proposals to protect more than 3 million EU citizens during an EU summit on Friday, vowing that "no one will face a cliff edge."
She told EU leaders that her offer includes equal treatment with British citizens for health care, education, benefits and pensions.
But European Commission President Jean-Clause Juncker May's offer was "not sufficient."