UNITED KINGDOM – Public Testing of EU Settlement Scheme Opens
Effective 21 January, the Home Office opened the voluntary public testing phase of the EU Settlement Scheme to resident EU citizens (and their EU citizen family members) with a valid passport and their non-EU citizen family members holding a valid biometric residence card.
Also on 21 January, the prime minister announced that the application fee (currently £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child under 16) will be cancelled once the scheme is fully open and that anyone who has applied during testing will have their fee reimbursed.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme is an application to the Home Office for EU citizens and their family members who wish to live and work in the UK after the withdrawal agreement transition period, or after a no-deal Brexit. Nationals of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (EEA but not EU) and Switzerland (EFTA but not EU or EEA) will also be able to apply from 30 March 2019. Irish nationals do not need to apply. Holders of a valid UK permanent residence document need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme; those with indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK do not need to apply but can if they wish.
Settled and Pre-Settled Status
Applicants who are shown to have been living in the UK for a continuous five-year period will be granted ‘settled status’, allowing them to stay, work and study in the UK indefinitely, use the NHS and access benefits, travel in and out of the UK, bring qualifying family members and apply for citizenship. Those who have less than five years of continuous residence will get ‘pre-settled status’, allowing them to stay, work and study in the UK for a further five years, use the NHS and access benefits and travel in and out of the UK. To stay longer, they will have to apply again to obtain settled status after accumulating five years of continuous residence.
How to Apply?
Applicants during this public test phase must use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app on an Android phone with NFC (Near-Field Communication) to scan their passport and their face. Once the scheme is fully open on 30 March 2019, EU citizens with biometric national ID cards will be able to use this to prove their identity instead of a passport, and there will also be the option of sending the ID document by post instead of using the app. The Home Office will check applicants’ identity, tax and benefits and criminal records.
Successful applicants will be able to prove their status using an online service, but no physical document will be granted unless the applicant is a non-EU citizen and has no biometric residence card.
The government has announced that, if the withdrawal agreement including a transition period is not ratified in time, the EU Settlement Scheme will go ahead, but the cut-off dates and deadlines will be brought forward:
|Deadline||Withdrawal Agreement||No Deal|
|Enter UK to qualify for EU Settlement Scheme||31 December 2020||29 March 2019|
|Apply under EU Settlement Scheme||30 June 2021||31 December 2020|
|Family members can join those with settled status||No deadline||29 March 2022|
|Family relationship must start||31 December 2020||29 March 2019|
|Higher EU deportation threshold applies to crimes committed||31 December 2020||29 March 2019|
Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact their immigration specialist for a case-by-case consultation.