The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced that EU citizens wishing to remain in the UK post ‘Brexit’ will have to answer just three simple questions when applying for “settled status”. Applicants will be asked to show that they have been living in the UK for five years, to prove their identity and to confirm whether they have any “serious” criminal convictions. It is believed that the government plan to use passports or ID cards to evidence identity and will use tax and benefit records to carry out residence checks (rather than requesting documents from the applicant). The Home Office has also stated that the purpose of the criminal record checks would be to look for “serious and persistent criminality, not parking fines”.
Mr Javid further confirmed that the new ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ would aim to grant “settled status”, not refuse it. He went on to say that there would have to be “a very good reason” why an application would not be granted. Applications can only be refused for a reason covered in the Withdrawal Agreement, which can be found online.
This scheme, costing £170 million, will be compulsory for all EU citizens living in the UK. EU citizens and relatives who have been in the UK for five years by the end of 2020 will be eligible to apply for such “settled status”. This will allow them to live and work in the UK without restriction, with the same level of access to public funds and services as they have now. Those who will not have lived in the UK for a period of five years by the end of 2020, will be able to seek to stay in the UK under a so-called “pre-settled status” until they have been here for five years, and can then apply for “settled status” once they meet the five year residence requirement.
Applicants will be able to apply online or using a smartphone app, which will allow decisions to be made “very quickly” once a search of the government databases has been conducted. The Home Secretary went so far as to promise that the system would be “as simple as people can reasonably expect”, with most decisions provided within two weeks of submitting an application.
The financial cost of applying to remain in the UK as an EU citizen will be £65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16. For those who already hold permanent residence status or indefinite leave to remain, the service will be free of charge.
The government expects around three million applications and will begin trialling the system in the next few weeks, with a planned commencement date at the beginning of 2019. The government website states that the scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019 and further confirms that “your rights will not change until 1 January 2021 so there is no need for you to apply for status as soon as the scheme opens”. The deadline to apply will be June 2021. The rights for citizens of Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland are currently under negotiation, but it is expected that the scheme will be open to them also. From 1 July 2021, EU citizens and their family members must hold or have applied for UK immigration status to be in the UK legally.
Mr Javid stated that “safeguarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK has always been our first priority” and that he took “immense pride” that many Europeans had made the UK their permanent home.
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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.