As we are approaching Brexit EU citizens’ rights has been a particular topic of discussion. In a bid to ensure those currently residing in the UK are able to remain, the UK government has introduced the EU settlement scheme. In this article we discuss the key things you need to know.
The EU settlement scheme will fully open by 30 March 2019. For all applicants, the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Who can apply to the EU settlement scheme?
To be eligible for settled status, you will need to have lived in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period for 5 years in a row.
Those successfully proven to have been living in the UK lawfully for at least 5 years will be granted "settled status" and can live, work and claim benefits.
Citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will also have to apply through the EU settlement scheme even though they are not from an EU member state.
What do I need to do to apply?
You will need to provide proof of your eligibility (as explained above) when you apply. You can submit an online application and scan your documents to the Home Office directly. In order to establish your residency you must provide certain documents. The list of evidence you need to provide to the Home Office can be found in this guidance on the government website.
The Home Office website states that you can give your National Insurance number to allow an automated check of your residence based on tax and certain benefit records. It is unclear if there is still a requirement for the applicants to show that they have been exercising treaty rights from the past 5 years. Those eligible will have their criminal records checked and will be refused if they have committed a serious crime or they pose a serious security threat.
What if I have been living in the UK for less than 5 consecutive years?
All EU citizens who move to the UK before the cut-off point (30 June 2021 or 31 December 2020 if no deal Brexit) will be given "blanket permission" to stay for a period - expected to be up to two years – after which you will need to look at extending your leave via the most suitable immigration route.
Close family members of those with settled status who live in a different country will be able to reunite at any point in the future and will be eligible for settled status after five years in the UK. This may include spouses, civil partners, partners of more than two years, and dependent grandchildren, parents and grandchildren.
Will I have to pay to apply?
On 21 January the Prime Minister announced that there will be no fee when the scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019. Anyone who has applied already, or who applies and pays a fee during the test phases, will have their fee refunded. This announcement was made after Theresa May was urged to ease the “shameful” treatment of up to 3.8 million EU citizens in the UK by ensuring they do not have to pay to stay in the country post-Brexit.
Who is exempt?
The UK government has said that British citizens, Irish citizens, those born in the UK who have at least one parent with settled status and people entitled to permanent residency in the UK do not have to apply through the scheme as they already have settled status in the UK.
Irish citizens will not have their rights affected by Brexit and will always be able to live and work in Britain freely.
If you require assistance with any issue arising as a result of Brexit, or another immigration matter, contact author Immigration Director Tamana Aziz on firstname.lastname@example.org, or 020 3114 1130. Her specialist practice includes immigration applications under EU law, business immigration under the Points Based System, complex appeals (including deportation and country guidance cases) in Immigration Tribunals, the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Tamana also advises employers and provides bespoke training on subjects such as compliance with the Home Office’s Prevention of Illegal Working regime and how to use the online sponsorship management system. In addition, Tamana advises high net worth and skilled individuals on extending Tier 2 (General) visas, spousal applications, applications for settlement and British Citizenship. Tamana also has significant experience assisting clients with immigration applications under EU law.
Duncan Lewis Business Immigration Solicitors
Our Immigration department is ranked as a top-tier practice in Immigration: human rights, appeals and overstay matters in The Legal 500 2019. As leading immigration specialists we advise on business immigration, right to work in the UK, Tier 2 visa applications, student/graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.
Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. Our specialist solicitors are also able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law during Brexit negotiations and after 29 March 2019, post-Brexit.
For expert legal advice call Duncan Lewis immigration solicitors on 033 3772 0409.