Phase 1 of the EU Settlement Scheme
Ahead of Brexit, the UK has been trialling its scheme to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK. Phase 1 of the scheme was open to a limited number of participants and has now been completed. The first participants were EU citizens from 12 NHS trusts and the students and staff from three Liverpool universities.
The EU Settlement Scheme
From March 2019, all EU citizens already living in the UK will be able to secure their post-Brexit rights. Those who have been living in the UK for 5 years or more will be able to apply for ‘settled status’, which will guarantee their rights to live, work and access healthcare in the UK as they do now.
Those who have been here for less than 5 continuous years will be granted ‘pre-settled status’ which will provide all the same rights as settled status. Once they have reached 5 years of continuous residence they will be able to apply for settled status.
The scheme will be open to any EU citizen who is already resident in the UK or moves to the UK by December 2020, and will be open for applications until June 2021. Each application costs £65, or £32.50 for those under 16.
The applicants will need to provide proof of their identity, and then most applicants will be able to link their application to their HMRC tax record, which will provide evidence for their working history within the UK. If this does not cover the whole period of their time in the UK, for example if they were not in work for a period during their residency, they will be asked to provide additional evidence in the form of bills, rent, etc.
The first trial phase was a small scale initial rollout, with Phase 2 designed to cover a larger group. However, it was successful – 1053 applications were made, and 100% of the applications resulted in applicants being granted either settled or pre-settled status, with no cases refused.
The report has also given the Home Office some insight into the parts of the scheme that needed to be adjusted, such as the communication materials available to assist with filling out the application and the ability to automatically match applicants to HMRC data to prove their residence.
The report does contain a caveat that these findings cannot predict the likely customer experience for all 3.5 million resident EU citizens and their families, as the test group is not reflective of all individuals who will be eligible to apply.
Nonetheless, initial indications of the efficiency of the scheme are positive. 66% of straightforward cases (with full residence proven using automated checks) were despatched within 7 days. Nearly all cases were completed within 2 weeks. The average time taken on all decisions was just under 9 calendar days, with the fastest application decision being made within 3 days.
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