The Government has confirmed plans for the settlement scheme affecting all EU citizens in the UK and their families. There will be a 3-stage application process, pledged to be “streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly”. The cost will be £65 and £32.50 for a child under 16.
Importantly, settled status will not be granted automatically, it must be applied for.
Individuals who hold permanent residence or ILR will be able to exchange their status for free.
The Home Office announcement on 21 June 2018 said:
EU citizens living in the UK and their family members will need to apply under the settlement scheme to obtain their new UK immigration status.
Caroline Nokes confirmed that those applying under the scheme will only need to complete 3 key steps. They will need to prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions.
The Minister also announced the planned fee for people applying under the scheme. It is proposed that an application will cost £65 and £32.50 for a child under 16. For those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for settled status for free.
The Home Office will check the employment and benefit records held by government which will mean that, for many, their proof of residence will be automatic.
Those who have not yet lived in the UK for five years will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point. From April 2019, this second application will be free of charge.
The draft Immigration Rules which have been published today providing details of the scheme, deliver on the citizens’ rights agreement with the EU reached in March this year, which also guarantees the rights of UK nationals living in the EU.
The new online application system will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. The Government will provide support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer, and continues to work with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.
The settlement scheme will open in a phased way from later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019.
The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.
The Home Office will continue to engage with stakeholders, including employers, local authority representatives and community groups, about the detailed design of the scheme before the Rules are laid before Parliament.
The following post was first published in December 2017:
Settled status will be available to EU nationals who have arrived in the UK by 29 March 2019, and who have lived lawfully in the UK for five continuous years.
A formal application is to be made and approved by UKVI for EU nationals to attain settled status in the UK.
The settled status application system will be online, and is expected to go live in 2018.
EU citizens who have arrived in the UK by 29 March 2019 but have not yet met the five-year requirement will be granted a ‘grace period’ after the UK’s exit from the EU in which to apply for continued residence in the UK on a temporary basis until they reach the five-year mark and qualify to apply for settled status.
At present, the grace period is expected to be two years, but this remains subject to further negotiation.
Rules for EU citizens who arrive in the UK after 29 March 2019 and during the ‘grace period’ are yet to be finalised.
The Government has emphasised its commitment to swift processing of EU applications via a ‘streamlined system’. There will for example be no requirement to provide biometric data such as fingerprints. The process will only ask applicants to submit a photograph.
Concerns have been expressed at how the Home Office will resource and service the anticipated demand for settled status applications.
The supporting documentation requirement of UKVI applications are notoriously intensive for applicants. The Government is however pledging to ensure the settled status process will be less demanding on applicants.
The new system will also allow caseworkers to exercise discretion as part of the decision-making process. For example, it is expected that applicants will not be required to provide detailed evidence of residence status during undocumented periods – provided the residence requirements appear to have been met overall.
Applicants will also not have to account for every trip that taken in and out of the UK.
There will be enhanced systems integration, data sharing and collaboration with other government agencies such as HMRC, to verify residence as a worker, in doing so alleviating the evidentiary burden on applicants.
The intention is that the Home Office is to work with applicants to help them avoid errors or omissions that could result in delays or refusals. Caseworker discretion for example should provide opportunities for applicants to rectify basic issues or provide supplementary evidence where requested.
Right of appeal
In the case of a refused application, applicants will be afforded a statutory right to appeal.
The process of appeal is to encompass prompt resolution of errors and omissions at case-worker level, and subsequent recourse to an independent judicial authority.
Applicants pending appeal will be permitted to remain in the UK until a decision has been made.
The application process will require all applicants to declare any criminal convictions. Details will be checked against UK security databases as part of the application process.
EU citizens will not be required to take out private medical insurance.
The Government has confirmed that family members who have joined EU citizens in the UK by 29 March 2019 will also be able to apply for settled status after five continuous years here.
Dependants arriving after Brexit will also permitted to join their EU family member(s) in the UK where their relationship predates 29 March 2019 and still ‘exists’.
UK visa and settlement applications come at a cost to applicants. The Government has pledged to keep the settled status application fee to the equivalent or less than that of a British passport (currently £72).
Permanent residence holders
EU nationals who hold UK permanent residence status will still be required to apply for settled status. However the intention is that this will be a light-touch process, relative to the initial permanent residence application process.
‘Exchanging’ permanent residence for settled status will be subject to ID verification, submission of a photograph, a security check and confirmation on ongoing residence, charged at a reduced fee.
EU citizens holding settled status may become eligible to apply for British citizenship, provided they meet the relevant criteria.
Next steps for UK immigration
The UK Government is at present awaiting a report by the Migration Advisory Committee, the findings and recommendations of which are expected to shape the UK’s future immigration system.
The full document published by the UK Government 8 December 2017 can be viewed here.