While the concerns over Brexit are almost at fever pitch, it is certainly not time (yet) to worry about your rights if you are an EEA citizen who currently resides in the UK. While Britain's path to exiting the union can be described as rough at best, the rights of EEA citizens residing in the UK have never explicitly been under threat. For all the bluster and propaganda, even the most staunch of Brexit campaigners have never suggested that the EEA citizens who reside in the UK should be forcibly removed.
Though there has certainly been no pressure applied, the EU Settlement Scheme has now been available for a while. Despite what many people believe, it is wise for ALL EEA citizens living in the UK to apply to the scheme, or at least ensure that they are covered before the deadline to apply expires. This way, you can ensure that your right to remain in the UK is enshrined, whatever happens.
For those that have so far not applied to the scheme (or those who are wondering if they should), this article should hopefully give you a clear guide to the EU Settlement Scheme and how to apply to it. If you need any more help, call us today and speak to a member of our team.
How To Apply For The EU Settlement Scheme
In order to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to apply online. This can be done by either visiting https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status or by downloading a mobile app on either Android or iOS devices. In order to apply, you will need to have some information and documents to hand. It is best to get these together first before making your application, though you can pause your application and come back to it at a later stage if you need to add more information. Below is a checklist of what you will need to have before making an application:
- A proof of identity - either a valid passport or national identity card
- Proof of continuous residence - either National Insurance records or other recognised proof such as letters from employer, bank statements and council tax bills
- Details of any convictions that you have - self-declared. You will only need to specify unspent convictions, not fines, cautions or spent convictions - please note that these records will be verified
Once you have these details, you will be able to make your application. If you hold a biometric EU/EEA passport or a UK-issued Biometric Residence Permit, you will be able to either scan your documents (if you have access to an Android device you can do this in the EU Exit: ID Document Check app that is available on the Play Store - iPhone app will be available by the end of 2019) or send them via the post. If you do not hold these documents then other options are available, but you will need to use the postal route.
To prove your residence, you may be able to use an automated National Insurance check if you are eligible. If you are not eligible, you will need to provide documentary evidence.
Eligibility And Requirements Of The EU Settlement Scheme
In order to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, you must meet the following criteria;
- Be an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
- You must move (or have already moved) to the UK before 31st of December 2020 (or the date of Brexit - currently 31st of October 2019 - if there is to be no-deal)
- Meet continuous residence rules - lived in the UK for at least 6 months of any 12-month period in each of the last 5 years.
There is some flexibility in the continuous residence rules - get in touch if you are concerned about your eligibility.
In order to prove eligibility, you may be able to use the automated National Insurance check that is included in the application. If you cannot, you will need to prove your eligibility with documentary evidence as laid out in the guidelines.
Checking Your Settled Status
If you are unsure if you have successfully received Settled Status, the Home Office has launched a web page that allows you to check the progress of your application at https://www.gov.uk/view-your-settled-status . In order to use the service, you will need details of the identity document that you used as part of your application (your passport or national identity card), your date of birth and the mobile number or email address that you used when you applied - you will be sent a link to one of these to login the service.
What Is The Deadline For Settled Status?
Currently the deadline to apply for Settled Status is the 30th of June 2021. If the UK opts to leave the EU without a new deal, this date will be moved forward to the 31st of December 2020. This date (the 31st of December 2020) is also the final date in which you can use your current identity documents to prove your rights to remain in the UK. With this in mind, it is vital that you apply to the scheme between now and then to ensure that you will be able to remain in the UK after the deadline.
While it may seem like an annoyance, it really is vital that EEA citizens apply to the scheme, as currently the future rights of migrants in the UK is somewhat unknown. The EU Settlement Scheme is currently the only way for EEA citizens to ensure their long-term ability to remain in the UK after Brexit.
Settled status In A No-Deal Brexit Scenario
If the UK, as is seemingly becoming more likely by the day, opts to leave the European Union without a replacement deal in place, there are likely to be ramifications for EEA citizens who are currently residing in the UK. The most obvious one is that the deadline for applying for the EU Settlement Scheme will be moved forward to the 31st of December 2020, but there are also other potential scenarios that may affect EEA citizens rights going forward. Our advice is to apply for the scheme in good time to ensure that you will be able to remain in the UK no matter where the course of Brexit takes us next.