The Home Office has released a useful set of resources aimed at employers regarding the new settlement scheme for EU citizens. Although aimed at employers wishing to support their employees, individuals will find the information equally useful, because the leaflets explain the process in a simple, easy to understand manner. This should be a great help for those who find the Statement of Intent, containing the full details of the scheme, too wordy and complex to navigate.
Finally, an end to all the speculation!
These publications should reassure those people who have been reading all the media speculation surrounding a potential “no deal” scenario, who were wondering whether the settlement scheme would go ahead in the event of “no deal”. We have already covered the fact that the settlement scheme became law regardless of whether an arrangement is reached with the EU.
It is important to note the following points from the introductory booklet:
- You have a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU as both a prospective and current employer.
- Current ‘right to work’ checks (e.g. EU passport and/or national ID card) apply until the end of 2020. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021.
The points are aimed at employers, but employees and job seekers can also rely on them. This information should finally put an end to the doubts regarding whether EU citizens will be able to stay and whether they will retain their right to work, which had been a cause of concern for both workers and employer, despite there never being any real question about this.
Highlights from the new publications
The publications make the process much easier to understand and a lot of common questions are answered in them.
If you have settled status, also known as indefinite leave to remain in the UK, this means there is no time limit on how long you can stay inthe UK. EU citizens who have been granted settled status will have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK according to the same rules as now.
- If you leave the UK, and return within five years, you can enter the UK and continue to live here as a settled person.
- If you are absent from the UK for more than five consecutive years, your settled status will lapse.
- If you have a child born in the UK after you are granted settled status, that child will be a British citizen.
Settled status will run alongside any rights you have as an EU citizen under the EU Free Movement Directive, which run until 31 December 2020.
If you have pre-settled status, also known as limited leave to remain in the UK, this means you can stay in the UK for a period of five years. This will allow you to remain in the UK until you are eligible for
settled status, generally once you have lived continuously in the UK for five years. EU citizens who have pre-settled status will have the same access to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits
in the UK according to the same rules as now. Pre-settled status will run alongside any existing rights you have as an EU citizen under the EU Free Movement Directive, which run until 31 December 2020.
The Scheme will be phased in later this year, and will gradually open more widely until it is fully open by the end of March 2019. But there is no rush – those who are resident here by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to make an application. Your rights will remain unchanged until then, provided that you were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020. There is also no quota for applications.
You will need to have been continuously resident in the UK for five consecutive years (less in some exceptional circumstances) to be eligible to get settled status straightaway. If you have been continuously resident in the UK for less than 5 years you will be eligible for pre-settled status, enabling you to stay until you have reached the 5 years generally needed to be eligible for settled status.
If your continuous residence has been broken, time spent in the UK before the time it was broken cannot be counted. Continuous residence generally means that – over 5 consecutive years – you have not been outside the UK for more than 6 months in total, in any 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of times you can be outside the UK, provided that the total period of time outside the UK is not more than 6 months, in any 12 month period.
There are some exceptions. You can have a single absence from the UK for no more than 12 months if it is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training, or an overseas posting for work. Any period outside the UK on compulsory military service is allowed.
Continuous residence is broken if you have been subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or exclusion decision. It can also be broken by periods of imprisonment.
Online application (not an app)
You can access the application online using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Where we can, we will use existing Government data to make it easier for you to prove how long you have been living in the UK. This should make the process straightforward and will significantly reduce any evidence you may need to upload or send to the Home Office.
You will need the following to complete your application:
- Access to the internet on a computer, tablet or smartphone
- A valid passport or EU nationality card
- A recent photograph of yourself or the ability to take one using a smartphone or camera
- Your National Insurance number, if you have one
- Proof of residence, for example P60s, bank statement and utility bills, if required
- A credit or debit card to make payment
- You will able to get support over the phone or in person if you need help doing things online.
You will be required to prove your identity and nationality. For EU citizens, this must be a valid EU passport or national identity card. If you do not have either of these documents due to circumstance beyond your control or compelling compassionate reasons, alternative evidence of identity and nationality may be accepted.
To ensure that it is you applying for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need to provide a facial image which will be checked to make sure it matches the photograph on your identity document.
Non-EU citizens will also need to provide fingerprint biometrics if they have not already done so for the purposes of being issued a biometric residence card under existing EU law processes.
Completing the application on your smartphone enables you to photograph or scan your documents into the app and to take a photograph of yourself to verify your identify (if you are an EU citizen). Alternatively, you must upload a photograph of yourself and photographs/scans of your evidence to the website and send your identity document by post. We aim to return your documents as soon as possible.
If you would like us to check your residence for you, using either tax or benefits data you will need to provide a National Insurance number if you have one when you apply. We will use this to check which residence status you are eligible for. If you do not have a National Insurance number, or we do not hold enough data to confirm this, you’ll need to provide evidence to show your residence. For example, a single piece of evidence will include P60s, utility bills or bank statements.
Non-British family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 are eligible. Close family members not living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to join their EU family member in the UK at any point in the future, as long as the relationship still exists. Children born or adopted after 31 December 2020, and future dependents, will also have their rights protected. Family members who are not EU citizens will need to show their relationship to an EU citizen living here.
Close family members include spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents. Family members do not need to be from the EU; they can come from anywhere in the world (referred to as non-EU citizen family member).
Leaflet 1: important information for EU citizens in the UK
Leaflet 2: steps to apply for settled status
Leaflet 3: key terminology for the EU Settlement Scheme
Posters: important dates, benefits of applying, steps to apply
The posters below should make it easier to spread the word, raise awareness and clarify the process.