Earlier this year the Home Office revealed details of the new EU Settlement Scheme and has confirmed that it will be fully open by March 2019. The Government has now announced that the majority of employees working in the Health and Social Care sector will be able to apply for settled status under the Scheme from 29 November 2018. There is therefore an opportunity for employees to apply through this scheme ahead of workers in other parts of the economy.

In summary there are three steps to complete: Identity; UK residence; and Criminality. Under the Scheme, EU citizens and their family members who have resided in the UK lawfully for 5 years will be entitled to “settled status” to protect their right to reside in the UK or "pre-settled status" where they have been in the UK for less than 5 years.

The initial limited pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme started at the end of August 2018 and involved 12 NHS Trusts and 3 universities in the North West of England. The Home Office has reported received positive feedback from customers on the ease of the application process (around 95% of applicants who provided feedback commented that they found the application easy to complete, taking approximately 15-20 minutes).

The second phase of the pilot has now been announced and will include staff in the higher education, health and social care sectors. The second phase will run from 1 November to 21 December 2018 and will test the full online application process.

The purpose of the second test phase is to make sure that the EU Settlement Scheme will operate as effectively as possible when it is fully open, particularly given in the first phase only 650 EU citizens applied. It will focus on the online application process including the systems that will allow applicants to prove their identity and the validity of their ID documents remotely. At this stage, an application can only be filed using the Home Office ‘app’ on an android phone. This is likely to cause difficulties and it is expected that accessibility will be expanded.

From 1 November 2018 3 NHS Trusts in Greater Manchester will be able to participate and from 29 November 2018 all NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts in England will be able to participate along with other organisations including; Public Health England, the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Optical Council.

The Home Office has also published an employer's toolkit intended to give employers tools and information to support their EU workers and their families on applying under the new EU Settlement Scheme

For the link to the toolkit please click here.