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Brexit: status of EU nationals in UK

26 June 2018

One of the key questions before and after the Brexit vote was what status EU citizens (and their family members) in the UK would have when they UK left the EU. On 21 June 2018, the Government published further details in a statement of intent, on the EU Settlement Scheme ('the Scheme'). You may wish to send details of this scheme to affected employees for their information. Essentially, it provides that:

The Scheme will begin when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. When the application process opens (date still to be confirmed but a phased roll-out is expected later this year) EU citizens will be able to apply under the Scheme for 'settled' status or 'pre-settled' status for a £65 fee or £32.50 for those under 16 years of age:

  • 'settled' status - EU citizens and their family members who have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, by 31 December 2020, will be eligible for settled status, enabling them to stay in the UK indefinitely
  • 'pre-settled' status - EU citizens and their family members who arrive in the UK by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident here for five years as at that date, will be eligible for pre-settled status, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five-year threshold. They can then apply for settled status.

Continuous residency generally requires that the applicant has not been absent from the UK for more than six months in total in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12-month period.

All applications under the Scheme from those resident in the UK as at 31 December 2020, must be made by 30 June 2021. Those who are continuously resident in the UK but who happen to be abroad on business or holiday or living overseas temporarily on 31 December 2020 will still be protected.

There will be three core criteria:

  1. proving identity - through a passport, identity card, BRP etc
  2. residency in the UK for the required period - it is proposed that this should be capable of being established using data held by HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions
  3. criminality - criminal record checks will be undertaken for any serious or persistent criminals, or anyone who poses a security threat.

Details of the proposed documentary evidence in support of the above, is contained at Annex A of the statement of intent linked above.

EU citizens and their family members who obtain settled/pre-settled status will have the same entitlements as before Brexit. That is, their entitlement to work, healthcare, study, public services, pensions and other benefits will not change.

It will be possible for close family members living overseas (defined as a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, dependent child or grandchild, and dependent parent or grandparent) to join settled and pre-settled persons after 31 December 2020, provided the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. They will have three months from their arrival in which to make an application for status under the Scheme (or until 30 June 2021 if they arrive before 1 April 2021). Future children are also protected.

Individuals who already have British citizenship/indefinite leave to remain/permanent residency will be continue to be unaffected by Brexit. However, settled status will provide extra rights and those with indefinite leave to remain can therefore change to settled status free of charge if they wish.

Those with permanent residency will be required to do a straight swop for settled status, again, free of charge.

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