A closer look at Settled Status for EU citizens

Following the release of more details of the UK Government’s
scheme for a streamlined application process to grant EU citizens in the UK
settled status to safeguard their position following the UK’s departure from
the EU, our EEA immigration solicitors here at OTS Solicitors take a look at
the post-Brexit position for EU nationals and what the settled status scheme
entails in more detail.

Safeguarding the rights of EU citizens with settled status

Ever since the Brexit referendum in 2016 when the UK voted
to leave the EU, the rights of EU citizens – and more to the point what will
happen to EU citizens who have been living and working lawfully in the UK for
many years – has been one of the key points of focus for many. One of the
fundamental freedoms that the UK signed up to as part of the EU was free
movement of people. Once in the UK for 5 years, EU citizens acquire permanent
residence status through the automatic operation of EU law – and although no
evidence of this is required, many have gone on to obtain a permanent residence
card which evidences the right, some assisted by Legal 500 recommended
immigration solicitor OTS Solicitors. In fact, since the Brexit referendum,
there has been a significant increase in applications for permanent residence,
something that our immigration solicitors in London have been aware of as we
help and support many in their applications. Until the UK leaves the EU, all EU
citizens still have these rights and freedoms to come to the UK.

Applying for settled
status

The announcement on 22 June 2018 giving more details of the
settled status scheme comes as a relief for many EU citizens and every UK
immigration lawyer following the Brexit process. The Home Office has issued a
detailed ‘statement of intent’ and published details on the .gov website – it’s
important to note that at the time of writing, the details of the scheme are
still subject to approval by Parliament.

Key dates for Settled
Status applications

March 2019 Although the settled status application scheme is to
commence trials in the next few weeks, it will not be open for applications
generally until March 2019

29 March 2019 ‘Brexit Day’ this the day the UK officially
leaves the EU, although there is to be a transitional period until 31 December
2020. EU citizens coming to the UK will continue to be able to exercise their
EU Treaty rights as before un this period.

31 December 2020 This is the date by which EU citizens must
have started living in the UK if they wish to apply for settled status (or
‘pre-settled’ status). It marks the end of the post-Brexit transition period.

30 June 2021 This is the date that the settled status scheme
will close for applications. After that, EU citizens will be subject to
immigration rules in the same way as non-EU/EEA nationals are currently subject
– we will need to wait and see if any preferential arrangements will be put in
place, either in agreement with the EU as a whole, or with individual member
states regarding ongoing immigration requirements.

Eligibility for
Settled Status

In order to offer as much comfort as possible to EU
citizens, the eligibility criteria for settled status seems to be
straightforward. You must

            

  • Be an EU citizen, or a family member of an EU
    citizen
  • Have 5 years’ ‘continuous residence’ in the UK
  • Have started living in the UK by 31 December
    2020

Children will be eligible for settled status, including
those who are under 21 and arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020. If you have
settled status and you have a child in the UK, he or she will automatically be
a British citizen and will not need to obtain settled status.

Close family members (spouse, civil partner, a dependent
child or grandchild, or a dependent parent or grandparent) not in the UK by 31
December 2020 will also be able to apply for settled status provided the family
member is eligible for settled status and the relationship was in existence
before 31 December 2020.

Pre-settled status

This has been introduced to allow EU citizens who have been
in the UK for less than 5 years to effectively stake their claim to settled
status. It addresses the rights of those who come to the UK and wish to stay
but will not have acquired the requisite 5 years’ residence to apply for
settled status. Pre-settled status will allow EU citizens to be in the UK for 5
years on the same basis so that they can acquire 5 years’ continuous residence
and obtain settled status. It is only open to EU citizens in the UK up to 30
June 2021 when the scheme closes.

Requirements for settled
status application

The application for settled status will be online although
there will be arrangements in place for those without access to the internet at
home. Applicants for settled status will need to have

  • Proof of identity – this could be a valid
    passport, national identity card or biometric residence card
  • Proof of residence in the UK – including P60s,
    bank statements, utility bills etc
  • Proof of relationship to an EU citizen for those
    outside the EU

Settled status and
criminal convictions

One of the key bones of contention with the settled status
scheme has been the significance (or not) of criminal convictions. The letter
sent by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to those signed up for information
about the scheme, mentions ‘serious criminal convictions’ although there has
been no clarity about what ‘serious’ means. The updated information on the .gov
website says that applications which disclose criminal convictions will be
dealt with on a case by case basis, so we are no further forward in terms of
being able to give people assurances. Reports suggest that if the conviction
resulted in a sentence of 12 months or more, this may put settled status in
doubt.

OTS Solicitors are immigration lawyers and EEA
immigration solicitors committed to assisting EU citizens navigate the best
path to regularise their status in the UK in the tricky Brexit/post-Brexit
period. Call 02039599123 today to be assured of receiving advice from some of
the best immigration solicitors in London.

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