The Immigration Minster has released updated guidance to clarify the process for those EU citizens seeking to remain in the UK post-Brexit. The issued guidance highlights many key areas of the process and introduces a number of changes to the plans that had already been discussed. Karen Bates, partner and immigration expert, summarises the key points to note.
Following our previous coverage of this topic back in July 2017 (available here), the Immigration Minister has set out important details as to the process for those EU nationals already based in the UK and who wish to remain post-Brexit, referred to as the "Settlement Scheme". The Government has confirmed that the process will be phased in later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019. The closing date for applications will be 30 June 2021 (six months after the end of the implementation period which runs from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020 (the "Implementation Period")).
This information has been long awaited and provides some clarity for those individuals seeking to confirm their residential, settled status. Specifically, the Immigration Minister confirmed that the Home Office's default position will be to find reasons upon which it can grant applications as opposed to deny them and that the cost will be £32.50 for children and £65 for adults. The application form will be online and the government has stated that there will be support provided over the phone or in person if needed.
EU citizens will be divided into three separate categories:
- Those who have lived in the UK for 5 or more years as at 29 March 2019 will be granted 'settled status' enabling them to remain indefinitely. These individuals qualify immediately and can make their application once the scheme is open.
- Those who arrived before Brexit but not for the required 5 years as at 29 March 2019 These individuals can stay until 30 June 2021 without the need to make an application. However, on the assumption that they gain the 5 years continuous residency prior to 30 June 2021, they will then need to make an application for 'settled status.
- Those arriving after the UK's exit on 29 March 2019 but prior to 30 June 2021 (the end of the implementation period as above) These individuals will have until the 30 June 2021 to make their application and will become eligible for 'pre-settled status'. This status will then enable them to stay in the UK until they have the necessary 5 years' continuous residency.
The guidance recently issued in relation to the Settlement Scheme outlines the many ways in which applicants can demonstrate their 5 years' continuous residency. Importantly for employers, this may include a signed letter to confirm the length of employment and employment status. In addition, it will also be adequate for each employee to evidence the pension contributions made to them by an employer, thereby demonstrating physical presence in the UK.
Previously, it had been the case that that a person would lose their eligibility to settled status if they had been absent from the UK for two consecutive years however, this has now been extended to a five year period. This considerably widens the scope of those individuals therefore likely to qualify.
Individuals will not need to apply for settled status if they are an Irish citizen (although family members from outside the UK and Ireland will). The guidance indicates that settled status will replace the current permanent residence status and that this could be exchanged free of charge. Settled status gives some better rights than indefinite leave to remain and can also be exchanged for this free of charge. Non-EU citizens will need to show their relationship to an EU citizen living in the UK. Rights for citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are still being negotiated.
For employers concerned about their workforce, there are a number of enhancements to the Settlement Scheme which helps to provide a degree of certainty moving forwards. The new announcement is, in itself, a positive step which widens the scope of those likely to be eligible to remain in the UK post-Brexit.
For employers concerned about their workforce, there are a number of elements to the Settlement Scheme which help to provide a degree of certainty moving forwards. The new announcement is, in itself, a positive step which widens the scope of those likely to be eligible to remain in the UK post-Brexit. One consideration for employers will be whether to help their EEA employees by meeting the cost of any application fee.
Further detail on the proposed scheme (which is still subject to approval by Parliament) can be found here.
For further information please contact Karen Bates, partner or your usual contact in the Foot Anstey Employment Team.