Immigration and the EU Settlement Scheme – what does it mean for you?

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A cornerstone of the European Union is the principle of freedom of movement, meaning that EU citizens can live and work in other EU countries with relative ease. The British Government seeks to end this policy, as part of its plans for Brexit.

Consequently, subject to certain exceptions, individuals from other EU countries who live and work in the UK will not be legally permitted to remain without successfully applying to do so through the EU Settlement Scheme (“Scheme”).

The Scheme, launched on 30 March 2019, affords EU citizens the opportunity to preserve their immigration status and remain in the UK. Applicants who are successful will be given either settled or pre-settled status.

By when do applications need to be made?
If you or someone you know, is considering applying under the Scheme, you will have until 30 June 2021 to apply, or until 31 December 2020 in a no-deal scenario.

Under which category should I apply?
To apply under either category, you need to be:

  • An EEA or Swiss national or a family member of an EEA or Swiss national; and
  • Resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or the date of Brexit in a no-deal scenario).

Pre-Settled status
You must prove your identity, residence in the UK and pass criminality checks.

Pre-settled status is granted for five years, which should lead to subsequent eligibility for settled status.

Settled status
You must prove your identity, five years’ residence in the UK (subject to maximum absences of no more than six months a year, unless for an important reason) and pass criminality checks.

If you are successful, you will be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Subsequently you may be eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British Citizen (i.e. obtain a British passport).

Instead of applying for settled status, you may wish to explore applying for a document to evidence permanent residence. The benefit is that you may be able to apply for British Citizenship sooner. You will however need to meet additional criteria to be granted evidence of permanent residence.

Comment
There are clearly many individuals significantly affected by the Government’s proposals, estimated at 3.5 million (according to figures officially reported by the Government). Recent figures show that approximately two million individuals have already applied under the Scheme, with over half a million applications received in September 2019 alone. The continued threat of a no-deal Brexit is likely to have triggered a rush of applications (even though applicants have until 31 December 2020 to apply in the event of a no-deal).

Concerns remain over the large number of individuals who have not yet applied, the decreasing application volume and slower processing times of existing applications (likely to be due to a backlog).

Many are critical of the Scheme, believing that improvements are necessary to avoid thousands of individuals in the UK having their legal status removed, citing the 2018 Windrush scandal to demonstrate the potential dangers if the Scheme does not go to plan.

The Government however maintains that it is an effective way to organise people living here legally, while also providing the UK with greater control over immigration, an approach also supported by many.

Apply
We would encourage you not to delay your application; applying under the Scheme is quick, easy and free.

You can either apply online here (https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status), via post or via smartphone app (although the app may currently only be compatible with users of Android and iPhone 7 or above).

Contact our immigration law experts today

IBB Solicitors provide expert advice on all aspects of UK Immigration & Nationality law to businesses and individual clients. Contact us today on immigrationteam@ibblaw.co.uk or 03456 381381 to see how we can help you with your immigration matter.