The EU Settlement Scheme will soon begin accepting applications from EU citizens and their family members to remain in the UK after Brexit.
From 21 January 2019, the EU Settlement Scheme (the 'Scheme') will enter a public test phase. This means that any EU citizen resident in the UK who holds a valid passport, and their non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence permit, will be able to submit their application under the Scheme to remain in the UK after Brexit.
The Scheme offers two new application types:
- Pre-settled status
Applicants who have been living in the UK for less than five years will be eligible to apply for pre-settled status. Successful applicants will be granted limited leave to remain in the UK for up to 5 years, after which time they will be eligible to apply for settled status.
- Settled status
Applicants who have been living in the UK continuously for five years or more, and who can demonstrate ‘continuous residence’ - see below, will be eligible to apply for settled status. Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK indefinitely and will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship (provided the requirements are met).
The immigration rules set out the following eligibility criteria which must be satisfied to obtain pre-settled or settled status.
- Arrival in the UK
EU citizens must have arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020 to be eligible to apply under the Scheme. 'Close family members' (i.e. spouse, civil partner, durable partner and dependents) who live overseas can join the EU resident after this date, provided the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the family member wishes to come to the UK. Future children are also protected.
- ‘Continuous residence’
Applicants for settled status must not have been absent from the UK (other than for an important reason) for longer than 6 months in any 12 month period during 5 consecutive years.
The Home Office will use data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions to satisfy itself of the residence requirement, but in some circumstances applicants may need to submit documentary evidence such as bank statements, a signed letter from an employer, pay slips etc. to demonstrate continuous residence.
- Proof of Nationality/Identity
Applicants will need to provide a valid passport, national identity card or biometric residence permit as evidence of their nationality and identity. An Android app will be available to enable scanned versions of passports/ID cards can be uploaded.
- Criminal record checks
Certainly serious criminal convictions could render an applicant ineligible. The Home Office will do their own criminal record checks (there is no documentation to submit).
Non-EU family members
Additional documentation will be required for non-EU family members who have not previously been issued with a UK permanent residence document. They will have to provide evidence of their relationship to the EU family member for the relevant period, the valid passport/ID card of the EU citizen and evidence of that person’s continuous residence in the UK during the relevant period.
How to apply
Applications will have to be made online via GOV.UK.
Applications will cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16.
Applications are free for people who already have Permanent Residence documents. Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain (or 'ILR') in the UK are not obliged to apply for settled status but they can if they wish (free of charge). The Government has stated that those who apply for settled status will have better rights than those with ILR status.
What is the deadline for applying?
All applications under the EU Settlement Scheme will have to be submitted by 30 June 2021.
Under what circumstances would an application be refused?
So long as applicants meet the eligibility criteria (with continuous residence being the key requirement), the application can only be refused for a reason covered in the Withdrawal Agreement. Broadly speaking, this means that the application will be granted unless the applicant was not resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 or they have serious criminal convictions/are a threat to national security.
What happens after settled or pre-settled status is granted?
Successful applicants will not receive a physical document. Instead they will be able to get proof of their status online.
What happens in the event of a 'No Deal'?
In the event of a 'No Deal', the Government has said that it will continue to run the EU Settlement Scheme, but applicants will need to be resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 (instead of 31 December 2020) and must apply for settled status by 31 December 2020 (instead of 30 June 2021).