On 23 June 2016, the citizens of the UK, by a slim majority, voted to leave the EU.  Almost three years on and an exact Brexit date is yet to be determined.  The UK Immigration Rules introduced, however, a new application that caters for all EU nationals living in the UK.

A report by the Social Market Foundation called on the Government to “inject a dose of honest realism, coming clean about the complexities and unintended consequences of immigration policy, about the control that it does have, but also the practical limits to that control.”

So what is that control?

Previously, EU citizens living in the UK could either apply for a UK residence card or a permanent residence card, the latter if they had been residing in the UK for more than five years. The fee for this was a modest £65.00.

The EU settlement scheme is now open (since March 2019 – our first proposed Brexit date) to those applying as EU nationals and their non EU family members.  The process is meant to be straightforward for the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK.

Before we discuss the application itself, it is important to note that the deadlines for applying under this scheme depends on whether we leave the EU with or without a deal.  A Brexit with a deal carries a key date of 31 December 2020.  Any EU nationals arriving in the UK before New Year’s Day 2021 can apply for settlement in the UK.  However, if the UK leaves without a deal, then this date will be the date the UK leaves the EU.

The EU settlement scheme allows both those EU nationals who are not eligible for permanent residency and those who are eligible for permanent residency to apply under the same application. The decision maker at the Home Office will decide whether the applicant is to be granted settled status in the event they have completed five years in the UK, or whether they are granted pre-settled status.  Pre-settled status would allow them to apply for settled status if and when they have reach five years.  The application is due to close on 30 June 2021 or 31 December 2020 if the UK leave without a deal.

The EU settlement scheme does not carry a Home Office fee and whilst it has been designed to be simple so as to allow applicants to make applications without legal assistance, many are resorting to seeking legal advice and assistance because of the ambiguities and constant change in the law.

If you, a friend or family are seeking to make an application under the EU settlement scheme, or have any private or business immigration needs from within or outside the EU, then Meadows Ryan are here to help.