This article is following up from our previous insight piece from last month on the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Home Office has unveiled further details of their Settled Status Scheme to senior immigration lawyers at its recent Business User Forum.
The Home Office confirmed that the proposed online application process, which can be completed by a legal representative on an individual's behalf, will have three stages:
Stage 1: Identification
Where individuals have a European biometric passport (embedded with a microchip) they will be able to scan this online as confirmation of their identity. Those without a biometric passport will have to go through a face-to-face identification process.
Each applicant will have to upload a photograph of themselves, which can simply be taken on their mobile phone.
Stage 2: Residence
The Home Office clarified that they will only be looking at whether European Nationals have been resident in the UK for five years preceding their application. They are not concerned with whether European Nationals were 'exercising Treaty Rights' in the UK. The primary means by which residence will be established is by linking an individual to their HMRC and DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) records through their national insurance number.
The online application form has a pre-approval function. Where checks against an individual's national insurance number establish five years residence they will be notified of this. Where five years residence has not been established, they will need to upload further documents proving residence (e.g. bank statements, council tax bills etc.).
Stage 3: Criminality
Individuals will have to answer a number of questions relating to their criminal record this includes pending criminal charges as well as convictions. The Home Office will refuse applications where they do not deem it to be in the public interest for an individual to be granted Settled Status.
If the Home Office are unable to conclude that an applicant has been resident for five years then they will be granted Pre-Settled Status, which is a grant of five years leave to remain. Once someone holding Pre-Settled Status has been living in the UK for five years they will be able to obtain Settled Status.
All decisions under the Settled Status Scheme will still be case-worked and an applicant will receive an email approximately two weeks after their application informing them whether they have been successful.
Where an individual already holds permanent residence they can convert this to Settled Status using a very straightforward application process on the same portal.
The Home Office still haven't given a precise date for when the Scheme will open for applications, although the legislation underlying it is to be laid before Parliament this month.
This clarification of how the Scheme will work should offer EU nationals based in the UK, as well as their UK employers, some comfort after a long period of uncertainty. The Scheme is a recognition of the valuable contribution EU nationals have made to the UK economy and a provides a clear route for these migrants to settle in the UK.