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29th March 2019

Brexit: EU Settlement Scheme comes into force

The EU Settlement Scheme opens fully from 30 March 2019, allowing EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to apply to stay in the UK after free movement ends on 30 June 2021.

Applicants, including family members, who have lived in the UK for the past five years, will be able to request settled status under the scheme, with those arriving before 31 December 2020 eligible to apply for pre-settled status. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

While the Government has confirmed that the scheme is not dependent on a wider withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, leaving without a deal will move the goal posts. In a no-deal scenario, only those living in the UK before 29 March 2019 would be eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status, and would need to apply by 31 December 2020.

Now is the time for individuals and families affected by the new immigration rules to consider which steps to take in order to protect their right to live and work in the UK. Equally, employers should consider how the rules will impact their business and how they can assist their employees.

Why apply for settled status

It is vital that those wishing to continue to live, study, work and access benefits in in the same way they do now, apply for settled or pre-settled status. The good news is that the Home Office has made the application process simple and user friendly and has scrapped the controversial application fee.

Requirements

  • To obtain settled status, applicants will need to have lived here continuously for five years, without being absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period.
  • Those who have lived in the UK for fewer than five years will be able to apply for pre-settled status. Once the threshold of five years has been reached, they can then apply for settled status.
  • Those who have been previously issued with a permanent residence document still need to apply under the scheme. Irish citizens do not need to apply.
  • There is no requirement under scheme to have comprehensive sickness insurance or to have exercised specific treaty rights (e.g. the right to work) under EU law. Stay-at-home parents, retired couples and students are all eligible.
  • Applicants must have no serious criminal convictions.

Procedure

  • Applications are made online and require the provision of identity documents through a separate Android (mobile) app. If the applicant does not have access to an Android device, they can visit a designated location to have their identity document verified, or can send their documents to the Home Office by post.
  • Proof of continuous residence in the UK is facilitated for those in possession of a National Insurance (NI) number, which will allow records to be pulled from HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • Where proof of residence is not obtainable through a NI number – documents such as P60s, bank statements and utility bills may be requested.
  • Evidence of settled or pre-settled status will be granted in digital form. Physical documents evidencing status will not be issued.

Online Right to Work Checking Service

It has been confirmed by the Government that EU, EEA and Swiss passports and national identity cards will continue to be acceptable proof of the right to work in the UK for the time being. The online Right to Work Checking Service can also be used, but is voluntary and only open to non-EEA nationals who hold a biometric residence permit (or card) and those registered under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Are your employees up to date?

If EU citizens make up a portion of your workforce, it could be in your business’ interest to ensure all staff are fully briefed on the EU Settlement Scheme. This week, Thrings held at interactive session with 25 employees from longstanding client, Lucknam Park.

For more information about the EU’s Settlement Scheme, or to enquire about our briefing sessions, please contact Neha Sarin or another member of Thrings’ Employment and Immigration team.

For help to prepare your business for Brexit, sign up to our Brexit  MOT or get in touch with our commercial contracts Partner, Kate Westbrook.

 

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