The EU Settlement Scheme
31st October, 2018
The EU Settlement Scheme will enable EU citizens and their family members to continue living and working in the UK after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on March 29, 2019.
To secure their immigration status and right to remain in the UK, all EU nationals and any non-EU family members living in the UK, must submit a settlement application prior to June 30, 2021. Those who do not submit an application by this deadline will not hold the recognised immigration status which will be required post-Brexit and this is likely to have serious repercussions for them and their employers.
To be eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status, the applicant must have begun living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020. EU citizens who arrive in the UK after this date will be unable to apply for settlement under the EU Settlement Scheme and will be subject to an alternative application process. This process has not yet been determined, however, it is expected to mirror the system currently used for non-EU nationals, which prioritises those with highly paid and highly skilled jobs.
Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status
Whether or not someone is granted settled status or pre-settled status will depend on how long they have been living in the UK.
EU citizens with five or more years of continuous residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for settled status. An applicant will be deemed to have the requisite continuous residence if they have been living in the UK for at least six months in each of the five years which pre-date their application. Whilst there are some exceptions for events such as serious illness, study and compulsory military service, if someone has spent more than six months outside the UK in any 12-month period, this will re-set the clock for continuous residence.
Once someone has obtained settled status, they will be able to continue living and working in the UK indefinitely. It is expected, although not confirmed, that absences from the UK of five consecutive years will result in settled status being lost.
If someone does not have the required five years’ continuous residence to apply for settled status, they may apply for pre-settled status. If granted, this will allow them to remain in the UK for an additional five years from the date they obtained pre-settled status. This will subsequently allow an individual to apply for settled status once they have obtained the required five years’ continuous residence.
Submitting an application
Settlement applications need to be submitted online to ensure the process is efficient and straightforward. Instead of submitting hard copy documentation, supporting evidence can be submitted digitally, either through an app or by taking a photo of the relevant documentation and uploading this directly to the application. Further, various UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centres will be available across the UK to assist with settlement applications.
Applicants aged 16 or over must pay an application fee of £65; the fee for applicants aged under 16 is £32.50. Individuals who already have indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK, or have a valid permanent residence document will not incur a fee. Additionally, individuals who have already obtained pre-settled status will not be required to pay an additional fee when applying for settled status.
The Pilot Scheme
The Scheme is currently in the process of being phased in and will be fully introduced by March 2019. Following a successful pilot in August 2018 which involved 12 NHS Trusts and three universities, the second pilot will run from today (November 1, 2018) until December 21, 2018.
The second pilot will open to three Greater Manchester NHS Trusts from November 15, 2018. EU national employees of higher education institutions holding a Tier 4 sponsor licence can apply from November 29, 2018. All NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts in England will be able to take part in the Scheme, as will employees of Public Health England, the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Optical Council.
To discuss your options for assisting your EU workers and their families, or if you have any business immigration matters we can help with, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Flora Mewies.