In summary, the EU Settlement Scheme will mean that:
- 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 Scheme and will be granted ‘settled status’ which will allow them to stay in the UK indefinitely.
- EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident here for five years, will be granted ‘pre-settled status’ under the Scheme which will enable them to stay in the UK until they have reached the five-year threshold and at that point they can then apply for settled status.
- EU citizens and their family members with settled status or pre-settled status will have the same access as they do now to work, study, healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.
- Close family members (a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, dependent child or grandchild, and dependent parent or grandparent) living overseas will still be able to join an EU citizen resident here after 31 December 2020 where the relationship existed at that date and continues to exist.
The Scheme will be an on-line digital application process which takes the applicant through a number of core steps:
- Proving identity - this is essentially verifying the applicant’s identity and nationality generally through their passport or EU national ID card.
- Evidencing residence in the UK – the applicant needs to establish their continuous residence in the UK and whether it amounts to the five years generally required for settled status. In straightforward cases, a check can be made on an automated basis using data held by HMRC showing tax paid in the UK. However, the applicant will also be able to upload documentary evidence to prove their residency. The Government will publish a list of the forms of documentary evidence which the applicant will be able to provide.
- Identity verification – the applicant will need to provide a facial image (a selfie!) which will be checked to see that it matches the photograph on their passport or ID card.
- Conducting criminal checks- the applicant will be required to declare any serious criminal convictions.
The application process is expected to open later this year and EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 will need to apply for settled or pre-settled status no later than 30 June 2021. The application fee under the Scheme will be £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child, although if an EU citizen already holds permanent residence there will be no fee.
We have a full set of FAQs covering the status of EU citizens living in the UK on our Brexit page which will help you answer the questions your employees may raise with you.