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New settled status for EU citizens revealed

The Government has set out further details in its 'technical note' of how the new temporary and settled status scheme for EU citizens and their family members will operate when the UK leaves the EU.

The new system

With the intention of the Prime Minister being made clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK is one of her top priorities, the new system aims to create a streamlined process that is user friendly and low cost.

Under this new system EU citizens who are able to demonstrate five years’ lawful residence in the UK exercising Treaty rights will be granted settled status which provides the same rights and entitlements as the current grant of permanent residence. Those who do not meet the conditions for settled status but can evidence that they were living in the UK before the ‘specified date’ will be given temporary status which will allow them to remain in the UK until they have accrued the five years’ residence required for an application for settled status.

The ‘specified date’ has not yet been confirmed and could be any date between 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2019.

The Government has stated that caseworkers are to exercise discretion and minor technicalities are not to prevent applications being processed for those applications made after the UK has left the EU.

What does this mean for EU citizens?

The technical note commits to:

  • giving applicants time to apply for settled status after the UK leaves the EU.  The time period has not been set in stone and is expected to last “around two years”.  The application process will be launched pre-exit so that applications can be made voluntarily before Brexit actually happens;
  • implementing a streamlined system which is more simple than the current application process for a permanent residence document.  Unsuccessful applicants will also have a right of appeal against the refusal to grant them settled or temporary status.  Applicants who are refused and who do not have a valid residence document or other type of immigration status after the end of the ‘specified period’ will be in the UK unlawfully and so will not be allowed to work and may be asked to leave the UK;
  • minimising the documentary evidence that applicants need to provide and enabling caseworkers to contact applicants to resolve minor issues;
  • keeping the cost of an application to no more than that of a British passport (£72.50) which is in fact an increase on the current cost of a permanent residence application (£65).  Applicants who hold a permanent residence document at the time of the implementation of the new system will still be required to apply for settled status but we are informed that there will be a reduced fee for this application; and
  • not requiring applicants who have not been working to have held comprehensive sickness insurance.

The document does however set out that applicants will be required to declare any criminal convictions and be checked against UK security databases. The current position under EU law is that EU citizens and their family members can be removed from the UK if they pose a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society. However post-exit, the position will revert to UK law meaning that where an applicant has received a prison sentence of 12 months or more, deportation will be considered.

What happens next?

The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for negotiations and she said last month that an agreement is within touching distance. The technical note published has been sent to the European Commission as part of negotiations which remain ongoing however it is important to remember that the contents remain proposals. Our advice therefore remains that it is sensible for EU nationals living in the UK to apply now for a residence or permanent residence document certifying their rights and evidence the time spent lawfully in the UK pre-exit.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

Please contact a member of the immigration team for support with applications for residence or permanent residence documents for yourself or your employees.

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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