On 14 May 2020 the Home Office released an update to the EU Settlement Scheme.
This is a scheme which enables EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (who have entered the UK prior to 31 December 2020) to apply for a status document to confirm that they are entitled to continue to reside in the UK post-Brexit (30 June 2021). An application must be submitted under the EU Settlement Scheme prior to 30 June 2021. An applicant will either be issued with settled or pre-settled status, depending on how long the EU, EEA or Swiss citizen has been residing in the UK. For the purposes of this blog, the requirements for obtaining pre-settled or settled status in the UK are not discussed. If you are a family member of an EU national, you may also be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, although you may be required to meet different criteria. Please contact us to discuss eligibility for the scheme.
The Home Office’s quarterly publication of statistics for the scheme, released on Thursday of last week, confirmed that since the launch of the first private beta scheme on 28 August 2018 through to 31 March 2020, over 3.4 million (3,468,670) applications had been received. Given the additional applications received in the period 1 April 2020 to 14 May 2020, this figure now tops 3.5 million, as confirmed in a Home Office update.
In the 14 May update, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, said:
“EU citizens are part of the fabric of our society. They are our friends, family and neighbours, enriching our culture and community. I am therefore pleased we’ve already had more than 3.5 million applications, with over a year left till the deadline. … The scheme is the biggest of its kind in British history and there’s still plenty of time left to apply”.
The latest statistics, up to 31 March 2020, show that the highest number of applications received under the scheme were from Polish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish nationals. These top five nationalities combined represent 60% of all applications received under the scheme. Furthermore, 493,800 applications have been received from children under the age of 18.
Of the 3,468,670 applications received to the end of March 2020, over 3.1 million (3,147,140) of those applications have been concluded. Of the concluded applications, 58% of applicants were granted settled status, 41% were granted pre-settled status and 1% had other outcomes which includes refusals (640) along with withdrawn, void or invalid applications (totaling over 33,000 applications). With respect to local authority statistics, Newham Council received the highest number of applications to the scheme. It must however be noted that the report confirmed that paper-based applications are not included within the published statistics mentioned above, although these types of applications are limited in number. It is stated that COVID-19 prevented these statistics from being included in the report and it is expected that they will be reflected in the next set of statistics to be released. With the deadline of 30 June 2021 still over a year away, it will be interesting to see how these statistics evolve over the coming months.
14 May 2020 also marked the release of a Statement of Changes to the UK immigration rules, which included changes to the EU Settlement Scheme. The majority of changes outlined below come into force on 4 June 2020, although the changes relating to family members of the people of Northern Ireland come into force on 24 August 2020. We provide below only an overview of the changes. If you would like any further information, please contact us.
- Family members applying under the scheme may be required to provide a certified English translation of the document evidencing their family relationship (such as a birth or marriage certificate);
- Further to ‘New Decade, New Approach’ published on 9 January 2020 by the UK and Ireland, which sets out a deal to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland, the rule change now aims to bring family members of the people of Northern Ireland within the scope of the EU Settlement Scheme. This, in essence, means that family members of British, Irish or dual British-Irish citizens who are people of Northern Ireland will now be able to submit applications under the scheme in order to obtain settled or pre-settled status;
- Children, spouses, civil partners and other family members may now be able to obtain a continued right of residence in particular circumstances following the legal termination of a marriage or civil partnership;
- Clarity has been provided in relation to circumstances when a continuous qualifying period of residence does not have to be continuing at the date of application;
- Access to the scheme for victims of domestic violence has been widened.
Gherson has extensive experience with applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. If you have any questions or queries relating to such applications or in relation to the rule changes as detailed above, 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.