The EU Settlement Scheme which allows EU citizens to continue to live, work and study here in the UK was due to be subject to fees. However, on the 21st January 2019, Theresa May announced that this would no longer be the case. Therefore, going forwards, and certainly when the scheme is rolled out fully, the application process will not attract any fees whatsoever. Those who have already paid a fee (as part of the phased roll out) will have their fees reimbursed to them in due course
EU citizens and family members who want to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The application scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019 and applications must be made by 30 June 2021.
The government published an EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit, which guides employers to support staff who may be affected.
The EU Settlement Scheme
In line with the Brexit draft Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens* and their family members can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 31 December 2020.
(* EU citizens used throughout this section refers to EEA and Swiss nationals, who are all eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.)
The EU Settlement Scheme allows EU citizens to continue to live, work and study here in the UK. It means they continue to be eligible for:
- Public services, such as healthcare and schools
- Public funds and pensions
- British citizenship, if they want to apply and meet the requirements
To be eligible, an individual:
- Must be an EU citizen or a non-EU family member of an EU citizen, this includes those with a UK permanent residence document. You do not need to apply if you have indefinite leave to remain or enter, or you are an Irish citizen*, but you can if you want to.
- Must be resident in the UK by 31 December 2020. Those who have been resident for five continuous years will be eligible for ‘settled’ status. This who have been a resident for fewer than five continuous years will be eligible for ‘pre-settled’ status.
- Must not be a serious or persistent criminal, a threat to national security, or have a deportation order, exclusion order, exclusion decision or removal decision against them.
(Eligible nationalities: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.)
* Irish citizens do not need to apply to the scheme to protect their rights in the UK, though they are able to do so if they wish. Non-Irish family members of Irish citizens will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to remain in the UK after 31 December 2020.
Fees Scrapped on 21st January 2019
The scheme can be accessed online using a computer, tablet or mobile phone. It asks for basic factual information like your name, address and reference numbers such as your passport, national identity card or National Insurance number. The scheme is a three-step process which checks:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence
The scheme was due to be subject to fees, however on the 21st January 2019, Theresa May announced that this would no longer be the case. Therefore, going forwards, and certainly when the scheme is rolled out fully, the application process will not attract any fees whatsoever. Those who have already paid a fee (as part of the phased roll out) will have their fees reimbursed to them in due course.
Successful applicants should not expect to receive a physical document unless they are both:
- From outside the EU
- Do not already have a biometric residence document.
The Home Office will e-mail a link to an online service that can be used to view and prove their status to others such as employers, but the online service is being developed.
Settled Status or Citizenship
Settled status is not the same as citizenship – for example, holders of this status do not have a UK passport – but those with settled status and at least six years’ residence may apply for citizenship. Settled status would generally be lost if a person was absent from the UK for more than two years, unless they have strong ties here.
Further Information: Employer Toolkit
There is no legal obligation for employers to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme, however you may wish to signpost employees to the information that the Government is providing.
Employers are not expected to interpret information provided by the Government and indeed employers should be careful not to provide immigration advice, unless qualified to do so.