On 21 June 2018, the UK government released details of its much anticipated EU Settlement Scheme. The Scheme's aim is to allow EU nationals (and their families) in the UK to obtain documentary confirmation of their UK immigration status as quickly as possible.
How the Scheme works
The Scheme will operate through a digital application process. Applicants will need to provide proof of identity and nationality and enrol their facial image. They will also need to confirm that they meet the requirements of settled status, as follows:
• that they have lived in the UK for at least five consecutive years prior to the date of application;
• that they have not been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in any 12 month period during the five year period they rely on (subject to some technical exemptions); and
• that they do not have serious criminal convictions.
Immediate family members of EU nationals will also be able to apply under the Scheme where they have lived with their EU family member in the UK for five consecutive years. They will need to show evidence of their family relationship to the relevant EU national.
Children under the age of 21 do not need to have been in the UK for five consecutive years to obtain Settled Status, if their parent(s) are granted Settled Status.
The Scheme will use HMRC and DWP data to check that an applicant has been continuously resident in the UK for the five year period. If these checks do not verify residence then the applicant will have the opportunity to upload documents to prove this.
There will be an application fee of £65, reduced to £32.50 for applicants under the age of 16.
What is Settled Status?
Once an applicant obtains Settled Status this will be issued to them in digital form. No physical document will be issued. Settled Status will confer the right to continue to live and work in the UK indefinitely.
Settled Status cannot be lost unless an applicant is absent from the UK for a period in excess of five years.
What happens to EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than 5 years on 31 December 2020?
EU nationals and their family members who enter the UK before 31 December 2020, but who have not acquired 5 years continuous residence, will be eligible to apply for Pre-Settled Status enabling them to stay in the UK until they have reached the five-year threshold. They can then apply for Settled Status.
When will the Scheme be introduced?
EU citizens and their dependants will still be eligible to apply for a certificate of permanent residence until 31 December 2020. The Government anticipate that the Scheme will be opened before this with trials to begin later this year. Withers LLP are in close contact with the Home Office and expect to be one of the law firms piloting the Scheme.
The deadline for applications under the Scheme will be 30 June 2021.
If you are an EU national or family member who would like to make an application for Settled Status or Permanent Residence, please do not hesitate to contact our UK Immigration Team for further advice by email here.