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Advice on public test phase of EU Settlement Scheme

Following two successful pilots of the EU Settlement Scheme, the Home Office has announced that from 21 January 2019, EU citizens and their non-EU citizen family members will be able to take part in the public test phase of the Scheme.

The Scheme

On 29 March 2019, the UK are due to withdraw from the European Union. The EU Settlement Scheme will enable EU citizens and their non-EU family members to continue living and working in the UK following the UK’s withdrawal. In order to secure their right to remain in the UK, all EU citizens and any non-EU family members must submit a settlement application prior to 30 June 2021. Only individuals who have begun living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 are eligible to submit an application.

Depending on how long the applicant has been residing in the UK, they will be granted either ‘settled’ status or ‘pre-settled’ status:

  • Settled status: EU citizens who have five or more years continuous residence in the UK;
  • Pre-settled status: EU citizens who have less than five years continuous residence in the UK.

Once an individual has been granted settled status, they will be able to continue living and working in the UK indefinitely. If an individual is granted pre-settled status, they will be allowed to remain in the UK for an additional five years from the date that they were granted pre-settled status. This will allow the individual to subsequently switch to settled status once they have obtained the required five years continuous residence.

For more information on the EU Settlement Scheme, including how to submit an application and the costs of doing so, please see our previous update.

The Pilot Scheme

In August 2018, the Home Office introduced its first testing phase of the Scheme; this pilot involved 12 NHS trusts and three universities. The second phase of testing commenced on 1 November 2018 and included organisations in the higher education, health and social care sectors. Official figures released in December 2018, revealed that more than 15,500 applications have been submitted but only 12,400 of these applications had been concluded meaning that thousands of applicants have not had their applications concluded which is disappointing. The figures demonstrated that 71% of the concluded applications were granted settled status and the remaining applications were granted pre-settled status. Further, many of the applicants received a decision about their application within 24 hours.

From 21 January 2019, EU citizens who are living in the UK and have a valid passport, and their non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card will be able to participate in the next testing phase of the Scheme. The pilot scheme is completely voluntary and will require applicants to prove their identity by using the ‘EU Exit: Identity Document Checking’ app. The Government has announced that the Scheme will be fully introduced by 30 March 2019.

‘No-Deal’ Brexit?

As the uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues, questions arise as to the EU Settlement Scheme and whether it will continue in the event of a no-deal scenario. However, the Government has confirmed that if the UK does withdraw from the EU without a deal, this will not affect the Scheme or the rights of individuals who have already been granted settled or pre-settled status. However, in the event of a no-deal scenario, applicants must be resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 rather than 31 December 2020, and applications must be submitted by 31 December 2020.

If you require any further information, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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