IMPACT – MEDIUM
The U.K. government has published a technical note setting out the details of a proposed streamlined system for EU citizens to register for settled status after Brexit.
The rules that will ultimately be determined within the U.K.’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU will affect approximately 3 million EU nationals living and working in the U.K.
- EU citizens will have up to two years after the U.K. formally withdraws from the EU to register for settled status.
- The U.K. plans to set up a voluntary application process so that EU citizens may get their new status as early as possible before Brexit.
- After Brexit day, a streamlined online system will be available for EU nationals to apply for settled status. The system will draw on existing government data, such as employment records, to minimize the documentary burden of submitting applications. The government fee for EU citizens to apply will not exceed the cost of a British passport (currently £72.50).
- Criteria for decisions on settled status will be “simple and transparent” and adhere to the eventual Withdrawal Agreement, such that applications cannot be denied except for one of the specified grounds and officers may not deny applications based on discretion. The process will be “pragmatic” and officers will not, for example, question every trip outside the U.K. or seek to verify that applicants maintained comprehensive sickness insurance during gaps in work or study. Applicants will be asked to submit a photograph, but will not be fingerprinted.
- EU nationals who already hold a valid permanent residence document will be eligible for a simplified process at a reduced government fee to convert the residence document into a settled status document. The process will involve only verification of ID, submitting a photo, undergoing a security check and confirming residence, and will not re-examine the previous residence assessment.
- Applicants who have not accrued five years of continuous residence but can show that they were resident before the cutoff date will be given temporary status, allowing them to remain in the U.K. until they build up the five years to be eligible to apply for settled status.
- EU nationals and their family members will have a statutory right to appeal decisions to a U.K. administrative review panel.
Background: The details of the system for EU citizens to apply for settled status follow the government’s leaked plans for EU migration in September. Prime Minister Theresa May has since indicated that the EU and U.K. are within “touching distance” on the issue of EU citizens’ rights.
BAL Analysis: The proposals should ease some concerns for EU citizens in that the government has emphasized that in order to process 3 million applications in the two-year post-Brexit transition period, the process of applying for settled status will be mostly administrative and refusals may only be based on agreed upon grounds. Additionally, this casts much needed light on what the simplified process will look like for those who have already applied for permanent residence and may encourage continued applications for permanent residence now instead of waiting for the new system.