With Brexit day behind us, Britons abroad and EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK find themselves in a period of uncertainty. What happens next? Where can one continue to live, work, or study? 1 February didn’t feel particularly different to 31 January, so can we just continue on as we were? Is it really necessary to ensure continued right to reside in the country of one’s choice? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”, and doing so is vitally important.
Worryingly, such questions and musings seem to be on the rise post Brexit day.
In an effort to demystify this process, we provide the following Post Brexit Breakdown for those who are uncertain of their position after the ‘great schism’.
EU Settlement Scheme: What is it and when does it apply?
Any person, who is an EU, EEA (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss citizen, and their immediate family members, who wishes to remain in the UK after Brexit and who does not currently hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, must apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.
The rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living and working in the UK will remain unchanged until 30 June 2021. After this date, if you are such a citizen and do not hold Pre-Settled Status, Settled Status, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under a different category, you will no longer have a right to reside, work, or study in the UK, and will need to leave the country. To apply, applicants must have arrived, and begun to reside, in the UK as of 31 December 2020.
Those who fail to do this, and wish to return to the UK after the transition period, will have to do so through the UK immigration system in place at the time, from their country of residence or nationality.
Pre-Settled versus Settled Status:
The difference in status is wholly dependent on how long you have lived in the UK. If you can prove a 5-year continuous period of residency in the UK, you will be eligible for Settled Status. If you have less than 5 years of continuous residency in the UK, you will be granted Pre-Settled Status.
Pre-Settled Status grants the holder the right to reside in the UK for a 5-year period. This period cannot be extended. Once the holder reaches the end of this 5-year period, they must reapply under the EU Settlement Scheme, evidencing the 5-year period, in order to be granted Settled Status.
Settled Status is synonymous with Indefinite Leave to Remain, and those who hold Settled Status are no longer subject to UK immigration restrictions.
Once you have been granted Pre-Settled or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be able to remain in the UK after 30 June 2021.
There is no Home Office application fee associated with applications submitted under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Holders of current status under EU Regulations:
If you are currently in the UK as an EU or EEA citizen, and hold an EU/EEA residence permit, family permit, or an EU/EEA permanent residency document, this document will cease to be valid after 31 December 2020. This means that even if you hold a residence card as an EU citizen, or the family member of an EU citizen, for example, which expires after 31 December 2020, this document will still cease to be valid on 31 December 2020.
Therefore it is imperative that those in this situation switch to the EU Settlement Scheme prior to 31 December 2020.
British citizens: travelling to the EU after Brexit:
The Withdrawal Agreement which is in place secures a transition period until 31 December 2020. Until this date, you are able to visit the EU as before. After this date those travelling will be subject to immigration restrictions.
For tourism, as a visitor, you will be able to stay in the EU for 90 of any 180 days without a visa. A stay of any longer duration, to work, study, or for business travel, may require a visa. This will depend on each country’s specific immigration system and the legislation in place at the time of travel.
Living in the EU after Brexit:
The Withdrawal Agreement secures your rights and allows you to stay in the EU country where you live after 31 December 2020. You will continue to have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access to public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.
Up until 31 December 2020, if you are already resident in the EU, you should register your status as soon as possible. Those seeking to secure their status in the EU should explore what is required to secure residency prior to the end of the transition period, as after this point you will be subject to the country’s normal immigration requirements as they apply to non-EU citizens.
You may be eligible to apply for residence status in the EU country of choice until at least 30 June 2021. Specific checks should be made in the EU country of your choice, and ensuring that you have established a presence in the EU country of choice prior to the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.
You will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you are a UK national lawfully residing in another EU country by the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020.
By way of conclusion, if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and have not yet secured your status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, the time for action is now (or at the very latest by 30 June 2021).
Gherson has been assisting clients with applications under the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme since it was established and has a wealth of experience in dealing with all aspects of the Pre-Settled and Settled routes. If you have any questions or queries relating to these categories, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson
Paralegal in our General Immigration team