Those granted it will be able to live, work, study and claim benefits. But has this put post-Brexit fears to rest or does it need to go further to prevent skills shortages? And what should businesses be doing to support EU staff?
Tom Hadley, director of policy and professional services at the REC, says:
"EU nationals play a vital role in our labour market. These proposals are a step in the right direction, but to provide clarity the government should specify that the five-year cut-off point after which people can apply for settled status will be the day we actually leave the EU.
"The proposal that ‘settled status’ will be lost if a person is absent from the UK for more than two years is troubling. How will this apply to the thousands of seasonal workers who are depended upon by farms up and down the UK?
"Employers can support EU staff by reassuring them that they are welcome and valued and informing them about government policy where they can. An informal conversation with a worried staff member may make all the difference.
"Businesses should also feed back to representative bodies like the REC about what’s happening on the ground, so that we can take any concerns to the highest levels of government.
"We are calling for government to take a balanced and evidence-based approach to immigration policy; working with employers to ensure that UK plc are not put at risk by an inability to fill vacancies."
Daniel Peyton, managing partner at McGuireWoods, says:
"The UK government’s offer to create settled status for certain EU nationals already in the UK may have settled some nerves. However, ‘many is the slip between cup and lip’ – and at the moment we don’t even know which cup is ours, let alone what will be in it and when we will take our first sip.
"The offer made by the prime minister to create a settled status is not much more than a statement of intent, albeit a welcome one. It remains a matter for negotiation with the EU, which we already know considers it a rather less generous offer than it had in mind.
"In these uncertain circumstances it would be dangerous for employers to do more than be sympathetic to affected employees, encourage them to take their own advice, avoid giving guarantees that may be impossible to satisfy, and continue to adhere to current legislation, including non-discrimination laws."