Securing the rights of EU nationals along with their family members living in the UK has been a priority topic in the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU. On 11 October 2018, a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was presented to Parliament. The statement included changes in relation to Appendix EU, which is intended to create a simple and straightforward regime for EU citizens and their families to secure long-term status in the UK. The changes will take effect on 1 November 2018.
The changes to paragraphs EU11 to EU14 of Appendix EU have been introduced in order to align the basis on which family members of certain British citizens will be eligible to apply for settlement status under the scheme with that of family members of resident EU citizens. They refer to family members of British citizens who have returned to the UK, having exercised their free movement rights in the EU, and where those family members are lawfully resident in the UK by virtue of regulation 9 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016. This is also known as the Surinder Singh route.
Lawfully resident in the UK under regulation 9 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 means that:
- the British national is residing in an EEA State as a worker or self-employed person;
- or was so residing before returning to the UK; and
- the family member of the British national is his or her spouse or civil partner and the parties are living together in the EEA State, or had entered into a marriage or civil partnership and were living together in that State before the British national returned to the UK.
As set out in paragraph 6.12 of the Statement of Intent on the EU Settlement Scheme published on 21 June 2018, the Government has decided, as a matter of domestic policy, that family members of British citizens who have returned to the UK having exercised their free movement rights in the EU will, in due course, be eligible to apply for status under the scheme.
The first phase of the application process is where a EU citizen is able to submit an application form online, which is intended to be short, simple and user-friendly. After submitting the form, the EU citizen is able to proceed with the second beta phase of the application procedure.
The changes introduced to Annex 1, paragraph EU9, refer to the second beta phase of the application procedure. The second beta phase is where the EU national will be required to prove their identity and nationality by using their passport with the identity verification app created for the EU Settlement Scheme. A non-EU citizen will be required to prove their identity by using their biometric residence card.
The Home Office has been testing the second beta phase since August 2018. This involved applications being submitted by employees of twelve NHS Trusts and by students from three universities in Northwest England, using the identity verification app.
The second beta phase app is now an integrated part of the online end-to-end application and it will check an applicant’s passport or biometric residence card to confirm their identity remotely. Further, applicants will be able to submit the document by post if the digital app is unable to read the relevant information in the document’s biometric chip because it is damaged or defective.
Document identification is a specific element of the second phase, which will be tested ‘live’ from 1 November to 21 December 2018. The other means by which applicants can prove their identity and nationality are set out in the current definition in Annex 1, paragraph EU9.
Further implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme will be rolled out in further changes to the Immigration Rules due to be laid before Parliament in December 2018 (for implementation in January 2019), and in early March 2019, so that the scheme will be fully open by the time the UK will officially leave the EU.
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.