The UK Government have developed a scheme, called the 'settled status' scheme, for EU nationals to apply for residence in the UK. The scheme has been rolled out on a trial basis and will be fully operational by March 2019.
Although EU nationals do not need to do anything right now, the Home Office has since published a Statement of intent – giving us more detail on what the scheme will look like.
Can I apply under the EU Settlement Scheme?
To be eligible to apply you’ll need to be an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen, and reside in the UK before the end of the ‘implementation period’ on 31 December 2020.
If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply for settled status. Your residence rights are not dependent on the UK’s membership of the EU. But you can apply if you wish and your eligible family members may also apply for settled status without you having to do so.
How do I apply?
Depending on how long you have been resident in the UK, the Home Office will process your application under the ‘pre-settled status’ or ‘settled status’ scheme:
- If you have lived in the UK continuously for five years you will be eligible for settled status. This will enable you to stay indefinitely.
- If you have not completed 5 years continuous residence you will be eligible for pre-settled status. This status will be granted under UK domestic immigration law.
You and your family members with either status will have the same access as you currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.
What does the EU Settlement scheme involve?
You will need to complete three sections to:
- prove your identity
- show that you live here
- declare that you have no serious criminal convictions.
How much does it cost?
- £65 for adults
- £32.50 for children under 16.
If you already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation you will not have to pay a fee.
You will also have access to a new dedicated contact centre and case work team at the Home Office that will be in place to support EU citizens.
The deadline to submit applications is 30 June 2021.
Has the scheme been tested?
Yes, given the scale of the task, the UK government were keen to trial the scheme before it is fully operational on the 30 March 2019. NHS workers, university staff and students in the North West of England participated in a private pilot of the new application process where they were invited to make real applications for settled status through the new digital process.
The scheme is now undergoing a second pilot where 250,000 EU nationals will be able to apply.
Can I take part in the pilot?
Yes, if you are a resident EU citizen with a valid passport or a non-EU national family member of an EU citizen and you have a biometric residence card.
From the 29 November 2018 you will be able to apply to take part in the pilot if you work in the higher education or health and social care sector in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You can find further information on the eligibility requirements for the pilot of the gov.uk webpages.
There is no obligation to take part in the pilot but doing so gives you the benefit of getting your residence status early. You will also benefit from the Home Office advisors being close at hand to walk you through the process.
You can find information on applying for the pilot on the gov.uk webpages.
Is there any guidance for employers?
Yes. A toolkit was published in the summer containing useful information for both you as an employer and your employees.
What if the UK leaves the EU without a deal?
As set out in the recent BMA briefings, the UK government plan to make a unilateral offer to the three million EU citizens in the UK that they can stay in the event of a no deal, based on what’s included in the draft withdrawal agreement.