Update on EU Settlement Scheme & Post BREXIT UK Immigration System for EU/EEA Citizens
Updated: 27 August 2019. The settlement scheme is now fully open for EU / EEA citizens and their family members to apply for settled or pre-settled status. More than one million people have already been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
However, there have been some recent conflicting reports in the media recently about the status of EU nationals and their families after 31 October 2019.
The Government has made the following press release to seek to clarify the position The government have pledged that the rights and status of EU / EEA citizens living in the UK will remain the same until 31 December 2020.
We are aware that the situation remains confusing and that the ongoing uncertainty is causing many to be understandably worried about their rights post-Brexit.
As it stands at the moment (27 August 2019):
- Free movement will end on 31 October – this means that any EU national or their family will not be able to come to the UK to work, establish a business or study as they can now.
- EU nationals and their family members in the UK by 31 October can apply for Settled or pre-Settled status up to 31 December 2020 (or potentially longer if the UK agrees this with the EU). Those who already have this do not need to do anything further.
Regrettably the longer-term situation does remain unclear because it is not yet known what the longer terms plans are for the post-Brexit immigration system.
Our Head of Immigration, Bryony Rest has stated:
Our advice is that EU nationals and their family members who wish to come to the UK and are not already in the UK ensure that they are in the UK before by 31 October and that those here already apply as soon as possible for Settled or Pre-Settled status to protect their rights post-Brexit.
At the moment and up until the UK leave the European Union (on 31 October 2019), EU / EEA citizens and their family members are still able to exercise free movement, so they can come to the UK to study or seek work without needing to apply for any type of residence card. Similarly, UK citizens retain these rights in other EU countries.
Although the Government extended the official date for the UK to leave EU from 29 March 2019 to 31 October 2019, the date by which all EU / EEA citizens and their family members living in the UK need to register themselves to the Settlement Scheme remained the same.
This means that all EU / EEA citizen and their family members need to apply for settled or pre-settled status by 31 December 2020 to be able to continue living in the UK after the exit date.
EU / EEA citizens and their family members who intend to remain in the UK will therefore need to be in the UK by 31 October 2019 in order to apply and be considered under the Settlement Scheme because freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October 2019 when the UK leaves the EU.
Will EU citizens still be able to come to the UK for work, study or holiday Post 31 October 2019?
EU/EEA citizens will still be able to come to the UK on holiday and for short trips, but what will change is the arrangements for people coming to the UK for longer periods of time and for work and study.
Details of other changes immediately after 31 October and improvements to the previous government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed and the government will set out its plans shortly.
The Prime Minister has announced that he wants to introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system. The Home Secretary is commissioning the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine this.
How to Apply for Settlement Scheme?
Eligibility for Settlement Scheme, you need to be either:
- An EU / EEA citizen (but not British citizen) with a valid passport
- A non-EU / EEA citizen family member of an EU / EEA citizen
Any EU / EEA citizen or their family member can apply for either settled or pre-settled status. This includes EU / EEA nationals who currently have Permanent Residence.
Irish nationals are not required to apply as their rights are protected under the Common Travel Area Agreement between the UK and Ireland.
Settled status is Indefinite Leave to Remain granted under the Immigration Rules and means that a person is a resident of the UK and can stay in the UK permanently.
It gives very similar rights as Permanent Residence granted under the EEA Regulations.
Once you have settled status you can apply for British Citizenship by way of naturalisation after you have had this for 12 months. By contrast a person with Permanent Residence can apply as soon as they have lived in the UK for 6 years which may be sooner than 12 months from the grant of Permanent Residence.
When applying the main difference is that when applying for settled status, unlike for Permanent Residence, you do not need to show that you have been working, studying or otherwise exercising EU Treaty Rights over a 5 year period prior to the date of application. Instead you only need to show that they have been living in the UK continuously for a 5 year period.
If you are not able to prove 5 years of living continuously in the UK you can apply instead for pre-settled status.
Again when applying for pre-settled status, unlike for Residence, you do not need to show that you are working, studying or otherwise exercising EU Treaty Rights. Instead you only need to show that you are living in the UK.
Once you have lived continuously in the UK for 5 years you can apply to change this to settled status.
How to apply:
Most applications for both settled and pre-settled status can be made online through GOV.UK website or via the EU Exit: ID Document Check Android mobile app.
You will need to have a valid passport, a valid BRP card or other documents such as Family Permit that evidence your derivative rights.
Once an application is completed you may be able to upload a scan of your passport or BRP card digitally through an Android phone: ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ or through the Local Authority ID Verification service.
Alternatively you can send your proof of ID by post.
If you are a non-EU / EEA citizen applying as family member such as application made on the basis of Surinder Singh or derivative rights of residence and you don’t have a valid BRP card then you cannot apply using the Android App or Local Authority ID Verification service. However you would need to complete the online application form, and attend a Sopra Steria appointment.
You will be required to answer a series of online questions to confirm how long you have been living in the UK. The Home Office will use the information you provide to check which status you can apply for.
Children and Young Adults under 21:
- Children and anyone under the age of 21 will need to submit an application in their own right. They cannot be included in a parent’s application.
- However they have the choice of linking their application to the one of their parents by adding in their EU Settlement Scheme Reference number or of applying relying on their own residence in the UK.
Summary on Method of Application:
EU / EEA citizens with passports and their Family Members:
How much it costs:
It’s free to apply to the scheme.
If you paid a fee when you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme before 31 March 2019, you should receive a refund.
However family members of EU / EEA and do not home a valid BRP as a family member of an EEA national, you will need to enrol your biometrics at one of the relevant locations for this and select Sopra Steria service which costs from £60.
The Current processing time is 24 days.
Approval is by email. You will not get a physical document to prove your status unless you hold a valid BRP.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens if I am an EU/EEA citizen, who already lives in the UK, but is abroad on 31 October 2019?
EU/EEA citizens and their family members who already live in the UK but happen to the abroad when free movement ends will not be barred from re-entering the UK when free movement ends.
What if I already have Permanent Residence?
If you already have Permanent Residence then you need to either change your Permanent Residence to settled status by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme or apply for British Citizenship before 31 December 2020 in order to avoid becoming undocumented.
What if I have gaps in my residence in the UK over the past 5 years?
The Home Office system will check residence against tax and benefit records. If those records correctly identify at least 5 years’ residence in the UK, you will be granted settled status, otherwise, it will be the case of pre-settled status.
What if I want to leave the UK to return later?
Settled Status will lapse if the person holding it leaves and remains outside the UK for longer than 2 years.
What if I have criminal convictions?
The Home Office will ask you for further information on your convictions inside and outside the UK. You may still be eligible for settled or pre-settled status.
What if I am an EU national planning to come to the UK in 2021/ 2022?
The government are setting out arrangements for EU citizens and their families who arrive after free movement ends soon.
When to seek advice:
You may wish to seek advice and assistance if you are uncertain which application to make or about the application process and documents needed.
Where an application is more complex, as may be, for a non-EU / EEA family member in or outside the UK, applications relying on Surinder Singh or derivative rights, where you may have a gap in your 5 years’ residence or have a criminal convictions then we would strongly recommend you to seek legal advice.