As everyone should be aware by now, the UK government intends for the UK to leave the EU by 31 January 2020. This date is the latest extension to the originally planned departure date of 29 March 2019. In light of its original plans, and the proposed end of free movement in the UK, the government prepared and launched the “EU Settlement Scheme” in order to safeguard the rights and residency status of EEA and Swiss nationals in the UK post-Brexit, and so that their status would be brought into line with that of all other migrants.
The latest date on which the UK government intends to accept applications under this scheme was set at 31 December 2020, which is the end of a transitional period following Brexit. This deadline would be extended to 30 June 2021 if the UK departs from the EU with a deal in place. Despite the extension of the withdrawal period, the end of the transitional period has not been extended and the UK government has not shown any intention of extending their deadlines.
In light of this, if an EEA or Swiss national has not applied for status under the EU Settlement Scheme in time, they may find themselves in breach of UK immigration law on 1 January 2021 or 1 July 2021, as the case may be. Reuters recently reported that if a person fails to make a valid application by the relevant deadline, exceptions by the Home Office will only be allowed in a very limited set of circumstances and only where these are compassionate in nature.
If an EEA or Swiss national finds themselves in breach of UK immigration law, this may lead to serious issues for them in the long term. They could be detained or even deported and any such immigration problems will affect their future residence in the UK and their ability to apply for British citizenship.
The UK government intended for the EU Settlement Scheme to be a quick and simple application for the majority of EEA and Swiss nationals residing in the UK. However, deficiencies in the system have been noted on several occasions. Vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people in care, may be unable to apply for one reason or another, or would not be able to prove their residency with ease. The UK government has not yet been able to adequately allay these concerns.
If you are an EEA or Swiss national, we recommend making arrangements to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadlines given above. Gherson has extensive experience in acting for EEA and Swiss nationals in respect of Settlement Scheme applications. If you have any questions or queries in respect of this application route, 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.