The UK has reached an agreement in principle with the EU on the rights of citizens already in the UK, but with some details left to be decided. The deal is not yet binding, however we expect the rights of EU citizens in the UK before Brexit will remain largely unchanged.
Will my EU employees who are already working in my business be able to stay and work in the UK after Brexit?
Yes, the agreement will allow EU citizens already in the UK to stay after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 and in due course gain permanent settlement here, known as ‘settled status’. They will be able to continue to live and work in the UK permanently. Their rights to healthcare and access to benefits will also continue. This part of the deal applies to EU citizens, their families and dependents also in the UK and will be subject to a formal application process made under the new EU Settlement Scheme which includes the payment of a fee as well as some eligibility criteria.
Does the same deal cover EU citizens, their families and dependents arriving in the implementation period (the time between March 2019 and December 2020)?
Yes it does. The agreement extends the same protections to EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK, whether that is before the date the UK leaves the EU (29 March 2019), or during the implementation period (which starts immediately after 29 March 2019 and runs until 31 December 2020). This is subject to the approval of the withdrawal agreement. In the event of no-deal there may be different rules for those arriving after Brexit (29 March).
Does the agreement cover all EU citizens?
Yes it does, however, citizens of the Republic of Ireland are already covered by a separate agreement with the UK. This agreement treats Irish citizens for most purposes the same as UK citizens, and the UK has signalled its intention to carry this agreement forward after BREXIT. EU citizens with a British passport will not need to do anything differently post-Brexit.
Whilst the agreement with the EU does not cover the citizens of the non-EU European Economic Area states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, the Government has recently announced that the UK has reached an agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway which protects the rights of our citizens who have chosen to call each other’s countries home. This agreement largely mirrors the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU.
Who is eligible to apply for settled status immediately?
EU citizens and their family members who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘settled status’, enabling them to stay in the UK indefinitely.
What about those EU citizens who arrive by 31 December 2020 but haven’t been continuously resident in the UK for five years?
EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, will be eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘pre- settled status’.
Pre-settled status means that the person will be granted five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK and they will be eligible to apply for settled status as soon as they reach the five-year threshold.
What does ‘continuously resident’ mean?
Continuously resident in the UK generally means that the individual must not have been absent from the UK for more than six months in total within 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. There are some limited exemptions for absences up to 12 months for illness, training, pregnancy or an overseas posting. Only one such period is permissible over a five-year period.
Will family members be able to apply for settled status?
Yes, although there may be some difference in the position of family members depending on when they entered the UK.
Whilst every individual person needs to satisfy the new requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme, applications made at the same time by families will be considered together. In some circumstances, where an EU parent is entitled to settled status, other family members will also be similarly entitled, even if they have not lived in the UK for 5 years.
After 31 December 2020, only close family members with a pre-existing relationship are likely to be able to join an EU citizen in the UK. Close family members are parents, grandparents and dependent children.
How long will an EU citizen have to apply for settled status?
The UK government is continuing to roll-out the pilot EU Settlement Scheme and it will be fully operational by 29 March 2019. Applications can be made from the time of opening until the end of June 2021 to submit their application for settled status or pre-settled status. They do not need to have acquired five years’ residence in the UK by June 2021, merely submit an application for either settled status or pre-settled status.
How much will it cost to apply under the Settlement Scheme?
The application fee will be £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child (under the age of 16). There will be no application fee for settled status if the person already has pre-settled status granted under the Scheme. Also, if the applicant already has a permanent residence document then the application is free.
What is involved in the EU Settlement Scheme Process?
The EU Settlement Scheme will be a digital application process. There are a number of core criteria which applicants will need to meet:
Proof of Identity – verifying their identity and nationality, generally through their passport, national identity card or biometric residence permit (we understand that there are very few of these and in most cases a passport will be needed).
Eligibility – establishing that the applicant is resident in the UK and, if appropriate, is a family member of an eligible EU citizen. Where possible, establishing continuous residency will be carried out on an automated basis using data from HMRC.
Payment of the fee - £65 for an adult application and £32.50 for a child (under the age of 16).
Suitability (criminality) –a criminality and security check will be carried out on applicants.
Identity verification – the applicant will need to provide a facial image which will be checked against the photograph on their passport or ID card.
How is the length of residency in the UK established?
The most straightforward applications will have the length of UK residence confirmed by automated checks of HMRC, showing tax paid in the UK. However, the applicant will also be able to upload documentary evidence to prove their residency. The UK Government will publish a list of the forms of documentary evidence which the applicant will be able to provide.
The documents that are likely to be acceptable include: a signed and dated letter from an employer confirming the period of UK-based employment, payslips and addressed council tax bills.
When will the application process go live?
The EU Settlement Scheme is currently being piloted with certain groups and will be fully operation by 29 March 2019.
What’s the position of UK citizens and their families in the EU?
The same agreement which allows EU citizens to remain in the UK between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020, covers UK citizens in the EU, where there will be equivalent arrangements put in place. This will allow UK nationals resident in the EU to settle permanently and continue to live/work/study in the EU member state where they reside after the UK leaves the EU but not generally throughout the EU.