On 12 April 2018, the Migration Observatory published a report, which indicated that a substantial number of EU residents in the UK might be at risk of losing their settled status post-Brexit.
So far, the government has announced plans to design a new system to grant EU nationals who are currently living in the UK ‘settled status’. The current proposals state that it will be mandatory for all EU nationals to register with the Home Office by way of an application and sets out the deadlines for this, which depend on a number of factors. Most importantly, the government has promised that the new application process will be more streamlined and ‘user-friendly’ than the existing Home Office procedures.
One of the major challenges highlighted by the report is how the government will ensure that everyone who is eligible to apply for settled status does so. At present, there is a significant number of EU nationals residing in the UK who do not realise that they will need to apply for ‘settled status’ under the new scheme.
Aside from adults, it is important to be aware that children of non-Irish EU citizens will also need to make applications to the Home Office regardless of whether their parents apply. Unfortunately, it is often the case that parents believe that their children do not need to apply for their own residence documents or that their UK born children are automatically British citizens. This is a mistake, however, as data suggests that tens of thousands of UK-born children are in fact not British and therefore require individual confirmation of their UK residence status.
Another group of individuals who may not realise they need to apply are non-Irish EU citizens who have already applied for a permanent residence document under the current scheme. Currently, applications are still being accepted by the Home Office under the more restrictive scheme for a small fee of £65, in which applicants are required to provide evidence that they are exercising treaty rights in the UK. Although such documentation will be valid, the Home Office has stated that all non-Irish EU citizens will need to submit a fresh application under the new scheme and that those who already have residence documentation would be able to apply free of charge.
The report also makes clear that the Home Office will be much more flexible and have a more relaxed approach towards the documentary evidence required for the application to prove residence in the UK. This will no doubt come as a relief to those who may have failed to obtain residence documentation previously due to a lack of sufficient evidence or failure to hold the infamous ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’.
Ultimately, once the UK leaves the EU, the proposals require all non-Irish EU citizens, their family members and extended family members to make an application to the Home Office to confirm their right to reside in the UK, regardless of the length of time they have lived in the UK and whether they have previously acquired residence documents under the current rules.
The big issue to consider is when the scheme will be launched and how efficient it will be. Those who have not obtained a residence card or permanent residence status under the existing scheme may face difficulties travelling to and from the UK after the new laws come into force in the event of the government being unable to cope with the volume of applications.
Gherson has over 30 years’ experience dealing with applications for EEA/EU immigration matters. Should you wish to find out more information or discuss your options 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.