What is settled status in the UK and how to apply for it?
MILLIONS of EU citizens have applied for “settled status” to remain in Britain after Brexit.
Here’s what it means, how many EU citizens are eligible and who will have the right to stay in the country.
Reports say there is a backlog of more than 300,000 cases[/caption]
What is the EU settlement scheme?
A “settled status” will grant EU nationals and their families who have spent five years in the UK the same rights as British citizens after Brexit.
This includes equal rights on healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.
From January 21, 2019, EU citizens were able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Any EU citizen currently living in the UK has until midnight June 30, 2021 to apply in order to be able to stay in the UK.
If anyone fails to apply by this date they will be considered as living in the country illegally.
Claims have been made there is a backlog of more than 300,000 cases.
How can you apply for ‘settled status’ in the UK?
EU nationals have to apply through the Home Office.
They will have to pay around £65 each and answer three “simple” questions.
It will cost £32.50 for children under 16 and is free for EU nationals who already have residency or indefinite leave to remain.
Applicants will be asked to prove their ID, whether they have criminal convictions and whether they live in the UK.
Their answers will be checked against government databases and they should receive a decision within a fortnight.
People will be able to apply online and over a smartphone app.
Anyone applying must have started living in the UK before December 31, 2020.
If someone who is from the EU and lives in the UK, but has not been in the country for five years they can be granted pre-settled status.
It allows them to stay in the UK until they reach that five-year mark, which is required to get accepted for settled status.
Once they reach the five-year mark, they need to apply again to claim for settled status.
What happens if people do not apply?
Any EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who has not made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021, becomes “unlawfully present” and will be at risk of losing access to employment and benefits, as well as being subject to other sanctions, such as being unable to rent from a private landlord in England or get free secondary healthcare.
You could also be subject to Home Office enforcement action.
Who might have missed the deadline?
People from all sectors of society may have missed the deadline but a number of possible groups have been identified.
EU children – if their parents came to the UK under the freedom of movement rules in place before Brexit, the parents may not have sorted out their children’s status under British immigration laws.
Children in the care system – The Home Office has identified that there are more then 3,600 EU children in the care system, according to the BBC.
Elderly EU citizens – EU citizens who arrived before the UK joined the European Union in 1973 are generally already allowed indefinite leave to remain.
Benefit claimants – The BBC reports a Whitehall leak revealed officials have calculated that 130,000 of 820,000 EU citizens eligible to claim one benefit or another, have not applied to the scheme.
EU citizens believing they are registered under a previous scheme – After the Brexit vote, there was a surge in applications to a previous scheme which confirmed permanent residence – some 390,000 cases. But that document is no longer valid.
Vulnerable groups – this could include people in abusive or controlling relationships who were prevented from applying. There may be people who are physically or mentally incapable of applying.
How long do people have to make a late application?
The Home Office has said, beyond June 30, 2021, late applications will be entertained if there is a “reasonable excuse” for the delay.
Although just what counts as a reasonable excuse has not been made clear.
The government though did say it would have a “pragmatic and flexible” approach to late applications.
The Home Office said the scheme remains “indefinitely” open – but only if the individual can show they had reasonable grounds for missing the deadline.
Home Secretary Priti Patel[/caption]
Who is exempt from applying to the scheme?
The UK government has said that British citizens, Irish citizens, those born in the UK who have at least one parent with settled status and people entitled to permanent residency in the UK do not have to the scheme.
Citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway do have to apply even though they are not from an EU member state.
How many EU citizens are eligible for ‘settled status’?
An estimated 3.6 million EU citizens resident in the UK could be eligible and must apply for settled status so they can continue living in the country legally once free movement ends with Brexit.
Those living in the UK lawfully for at least five years will be granted “settled status” and can live, work and claim benefits just as they can now.
All EU citizens who move to the UK before the cut-off point will be given “blanket permission” to stay for a period – expected to be up to two years.
Close family members of those with settled status who live in a different country will be able to reunite at any point in the future and will be eligible for settled status after five years.
Family members such as spouses, civil partners, partners of more than two years, and dependent grandchildren, parents and grandchildren.
Children born in the UK to parents from the EU will automatically become British citizens.
Irish citizens will not have their rights affected by Brexit and will always be able to live and work in Britain freely
What does this mean for British citizens living in Europe?
The arrangements for British citizens living in the EU has not been fully worked out.
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal the UK citizens will still be able to live in the EU if they are considered to be legally living there as of March 29, 2019.
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The European Commission has outlined in a memo from December 2018 that the EU is ready to issue residence permits to UK citizens to provide reassurance.
The Government has promised:
- Brits will be able to get free healthcare while living or travelling in Europe under a continuation of the EHIC scheme
- Brit pensioners living in Europe will have their pension payments increased every year just as if they were still in the UK
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