The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020. Following this, the UK and the EU entered an agreed transitional period during which very little will change. This transitional period will end on 31st December 2020. The UK has implemented permanent settlement scheme for EU nationals who reside in the UK before the end of the transitional period. EU nationals who reside in the UK before this time will keep all the rights they currently have in the UK as citizens of the European Union, for example to work, study and have access to public services. To gain this new status, EU nationals need to make an application, and have until the end of June 2021 to do this, but they can take action earlier if they wish to do so and can apply now
The process to apply for this new status (which is called settled status), is –
- On-line, with an option of a paper application for those who want it. There are also a number of centres that have been set up around the UK where EU nationals can receive assistance with their application if they need it - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-id-document-scanner-locations/locations-offering-chip-checker-services
- Based on three criteria – residence in the UK, proof of identity and a criminal records check
- As part of the application process, if the person applying provides their national insurance number, then the UK government will check tax and social security records, to establish the length of time the person has been a UK resident
- Those with five years UK residence will be granted settled status immediately
- Those with less than five years UK residence will be granted a time-limited status called pre-settled status. Pre-settled status will itself last for five years for every applicant, allowing further time for the person to gain their permanent settled status in the UK later. To do this they will need to make a second application after they have been a UK resident for 5 years
The application system is open now and applications can be made any time until the end of June 2021.
What they can do now
To gain they settled status, an EU citizen they will need to have had five years of continuous UK residence. In some circumstances it is possible to lose their continuous residence status, for example if the EU citizen has had a serious criminal conviction or have been absent from the UK for longer periods of time. The UK government will check tax and social security records if the EU national they agrees as evidence of their UK residence, and if a five year tax and social security record is confirmed, then the applicant will not need to provide any additional evidence of their residence. But they will also have the option to provide further evidence as well, for example if they do not have a complete tax or social security record for the period that they have been resident in the UK. They, and their they dependents and family members, will also need to prove they their identities, and so they could prepare for this now.
- Either a valid, current passport or EU national ID card to prove identity which are in date for the time of the application,
- The applicant may need to obtain a new passport of ID card if it is due to expire before they intend to apply,
- The applicant should make sure that they are on the local electoral register, as this may help establish UK residence,
- Check the name on gas, electricity and council tax bills and keep them as they will prove residence for the account holder,
- Remember that whilst fixed line telephone bills or for TV or the internet will be accepted as evidence of residence, mobile telephone bills will not be accepted,
- Make sure the name/s on the bills will need to match the name on they
- Retain their payslips, P60 and P45 documents and old employment contracts,
- Keep all their old bank and building society statements,
- Think about asking an employer for a letter confirming the dates of their employment, particularly if they have not kept payslips or may be about to move jobs,
- Keep tenancy agreements and mortgage statements, or ask for copies if they don’t have these,
- Retain letters or emails with UK government organisations such as the NHS, DVLA, their local council or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP),
- Keep any old ID documents
- Think about how far back they can go with their documents – ideally they need at least the past five years,
Rules on counting their UK residence to remember,
- “Continuously resident” will generally mean that the applicant have not been absent from the UK for more than six months in any rolling 12 month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12 month period.
- There are some exceptions to this. One single period of more than six months but is not more than 12 months is permitted over the five year period, where this is for an important reason, such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.
- If the applicant is absent from the UK for more than six months (in any 12 month period), or more than a year, then their period of residence may be broken, meaning they will need to start counting again towards their five years UK residence
Should EU citizens apply for settled status now, or wait until later?
The UK Government has announced that the deadline for applying will be the end of June 2021. There is therefore no requirement to apply immediately. However, applying for and being granted settled status, or pre-settled status now, will ensure that EU citizens have their rights protected.
Having settled status will also in time make it clearer that those with settled status were UK residents before the end of the transitional period, and were not EU citizens who came to the UK after this. EU citizens arriving after 2020 are subject to different rules, and having settled status now is one way make it clear that the holder was a permanent UK resident before the UK left the EU and therefore not subject to these new rules.
There are therefore advantages to EU citizens in applying for settled status now and not waiting until the deadline for doing so in June 2020.
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