The Government Announces The Application Requirements For EU Nationals Arriving Up Until 2020

 

On the 21st June 2018, the government published detailed guidance about how the system will work for EU nationals currently living in the UK and who want to stay in the UK following Brexit.

With the publication of this document, which comes just two days before the two year anniversary of the Brexit referendum, the government have taken a big step forward in removing the uncertainty that many EU nationals have been feeling together with the uncertainty faced by employers.

This article summarises the most important points that come out of the guidance, as well as the steps that employers should be taking now to keep employees updated on developments.

Which EU nationals will need to apply for settled status?

In summary, ALL EU nationals will need to apply under the new ‘settled status’ scheme that is being introduced. It does not matter whether the EU national arrived in the UK 40 years ago or last week, they will still need to make an application under the same system.

The Application process will be available to all EU nationals who are living in the UK or who arrive in the UK before the 31st December 2020.

If an EU national has not been living in the UK for 5 years by the point they apply, they will be eligible for ‘pre-settled’ status, enabling them to stay in the UK for 5 years in order to become eligible for ‘settled’ status. This means that it is not too late for EU nationals who wish to settle in the UK in future to come to the UK and apply under this scheme, as long as they arrive before the 31st December 2020.

Importantly, we do not yet know what rules will apply to EU nationals that arrive in the UK after the 31st December 2020 as this has not yet been announced. This agreement only relates to EU nationals arriving in the UK before the 31st December 2020.

How will EU nationals apply?

There will be an online, digital process for submitting the application to the Home Office. Applicants may also be made using an Android app on a smartphone (although we understand there are currently technological difficulties with the programming of an Iphone compatible app).

The application process will involve an Applicant providing proof of their identity, uploading a photograph of themselves, completing a form, and, optionally, uploading documents in support of the application.

Which EU nationals will qualify for settled status

EU nationals will need to prove:

  1. Their identity and nationality through uploading a valid passport or valid national identity card
  2. They have had 5 years continuous residence in the UK – residence here means that the person has lived in the UK, and not spent more than 6 months out of the UK in a 12 month period (although once absence up to 12 months may be allowed in certain circumstances). There is no requirement for an EU national to prove that they were ‘exercising treaty rights’ as a student or worker etc. This will be welcome news for EU nationals who have struggled with making applications for permanent residence documents. The Home Office intend to rely upon DWP and HMRC records to check a person’s residence, and if these do not demonstrate the person was resident as claimed, the applicant will be able to upload additional evidence of their residence;
  3. The EU national will be subject to criminality and security checks

Family Members of EU nationals

The published documents confirm that settled status will also be available to non-EU nationals who fit within the category of being a ‘family member’ of an EU national. This includes people who are married to an EU national, in a durable relationship with them, are a dependent child or a dependent parent, and a number of other scenarios currently covered by EU law.

Family members will need to establish the same criteria as EU nationals, as well as proving that they are a ‘family member’ of the EU national in question.

How much will it cost?

The cost will be £65 for the application. There are however some exceptions:

  • Children under the age of 16 will be charged £32.50;
  • Those who have indefinite leave to remain, a document certifying permanent residence or who have ‘pre-settled status’ will not be charged;
  • Children in the care of the local authority will also not be charged.

When should EU nationals start applying?

There will be a phased roll out of the new settled status scheme from late 2018, and the scheme will be fully open from the 30th March 2019. Applicants will need to apply for status under the scheme by the 30th June 2021. It is anticipated that many EU nationals will take the opportunity to apply early on to provide themselves with the security of having had their applications approved.

How long will it take for a decision to be made on an application?

No timescales have been published, however suggestions have been that the Home Office will be able to turn around applications within a few days (although this may take longer at times of peak demand).

What rights does a person with settled and pre-settled status have?

Where an EU applicant has their application approved, they will be given proof of their status in ‘digital form’. The guidance states that EU nationals will continue to be able to use their passport and National ID card until the 31st December 2020 to prove their status (although it is unclear whether further documents will be required at that point).

A person who is granted settled or pre-settled status under the scheme will be entitled to the same rights they currently enjoy, including the right to work, study and access public services and benefits.

What steps should employers of EU nationals take now?

Given high levels of misinformation in media reports, it would be advisable for employers to provide their EU national employees with clear and accurate information concerning the requirements that exist. Contrary to certain reports, obtaining settled status will not be automatic. All EU nationals will be required to make an application.

Many EU nationals have been put off making an application for a permanent residence document due to the high levels of documentation and the complex forms involved. The process of applying for settled status has been designed to make the process more straightforward for Applicants, however there are still likely to be teething problems when dealing with huge numbers of Applicants, who have no previous experience of needing to make an application to the Home Office.

Paragon Law have provided training to employees at Universities and Businesses over Brexit and steps that need to be taken by employees. If you would like to find out more about how Paragon Law may assist in supporting your business or employees with the new settled status application process, please get in touch with your usual Paragon Law contact or the Head of our Brexit Group Mark Lilley-Tams at markl@paragonlaw.co.uk