The UK Government has developed a scheme, called the ‘settled status’ scheme, for EU nationals to apply for residence in the UK after Brexit.
The scheme will be fully open to all EU nationals resident in the UK from March 2019 onwards.
On 21 January 2019, the UK Government is launching a public test phase in which EU nationals and their non-EU national family members can apply for, and secure, settled status. Securing this new status will prove (for example, to employers or public service providers) that you have the right to continue to live and work in the UK, and to access public funds and services in the future.
This follows a number of earlier pilots throughout 2018, where EU nationals employed in the higher education, health and social care sectors applied under the scheme.
Can I take part in the pilot?
Yes, from 21 January 2019 you will be able to apply to take part in the settled status pilot 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.
However, the pilot is not open to:
- EU nationals who do not hold a valid passport i.e. only an ID Card;
- Non-European family members of European citizens who do not hold a residence card;
- Anyone who is unable to use the Home Office Android app;
- Individuals outside of the UK.
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 five years continuous residence you will be eligible for pre-settled status. This status will be granted under UK domestic immigration law.
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?
The UK government recently announced that EU nationals will no longer have to pay a fee to apply for settled status. You will be able to apply for your status free of charge. Those who have applied for settled status during the piloting of the scheme will have their fee reimbursed after 30 March 2019. If you are eligible for a refund you be automatically refunded.
If you already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation you can also apply to transfer your status free of charge.
You can find further information on the eligibility requirements for the pilot on gov.uk as well as information on ‘how to apply’.
I already hold permanent residence status do I still need to apply?
If you already hold permanent residence status you must still apply for settled status. The process of applying will be much simpler and some requirements of the scheme are more generous than that of permanent residence. Firstly, it is not a requirement to hold Comprehensive Sickness Insurance under the scheme and those who hold settled status can be absent from the UK for five consecutive years before their status lapses.
What if I already hold Indefinite leave to remain or Indefinite leave to enter?
However, if you have Indefinite leave to remain or Indefinite leave to enter under the Immigration Rules, you do not have to apply for settled status, but as mentioned above there may be benefits to you doing so. If you are a BMA member and you are not sure what status you hold you can contact our Immigration Advice Service for advice.
Can my family members also take part?
Yes, your family members can take part in the pilot, as long as they are a resident EU national with a valid passport or a non-EU national family member of an EU citizen and have a biometric residence card.
Do I need to take part in the trial?
There is no obligation to take part in the pilot but doing so gives you the benefit of getting your residence status early. You may also benefit from the Home Office advisors being close at hand to walk you through the process.
When will the scheme be opened to all EU nationals?
Assuming the UK leaves the EU with a deal in place, the EU Settlement Scheme will be fully operational from March 2019. To be eligible to apply you’ll need to be an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU citizen and be resident 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.
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.
Please see the above sections on 'What does the EU Settlement scheme involve?' and 'How much does it cost?'
The deadline to submit applications is 30 June 2021.
What if the UK leaves the EU without a deal?
The UK government published a technical note on Citizens' rights, where they confirmed that EU citizens who are resident in the UK before the 29 March 2019 can stay in the event of a no deal, based on what’s included in the draft withdrawal agreement. EU nationals will have until 31 December 2020 to apply, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, but there will be no six month ‘grace period’ beyond this.
Further guidance was issued to confirm that EU nationals will be able to enter the UK after the 29 March 2019 for an interim period. If they want to stay longer than three months, they will have to apply for leave to remain which would allow them to stay in the UK for up to three years. This is a temporary, non-extendable immigration status. It will not give indefinite leave to remain, lead to status under the EU settlement scheme or make EU nationals eligible to stay in the UK indefinitely.
If EU nationals want to stay in the UK for more than three years, they will need to apply for an immigration status under the new immigration system, which will come into effect from 1 January 2021. Those who do not qualify will need to leave the UK when their European Temporary leave to remain expires.
Is there any guidance available?
Yes, the Home Office has produced some guidance as well as a useful briefing pack and poster to raise awareness of the scheme.
If you are an employer, guidance was published containing useful information for both you and your employees.
We will update these pages when further information about the wider test phase is published by the Home Office.
BMA Immigration Advice Service
Did you know as a member you are entitled to access our Immigration Advice Service which provides free, basic immigration advice in connection with your employment and/or study in the UK. Call one of our advisers on 0300 123 1233.
Find out more about the BMA Immigration Advice Service.