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Brexit immigration update – UKVI sets out the proposed settled status application process for EU citizens in the UK

Posted: 22/11/2017

Ahead of the next round of Brexit negotiations, the UKVI published a technical note on 7 November 2017 entitled Citizen’s Rights – Administrative Procedures in the UK. The note sets out the UKVI’s proposals in relation to administrative procedures for EU citizens wishing to obtain settled status in the UK.

As the UKVI has indicated previously, all EU nationals who arrived in the UK before the cut-off date will be able to apply for settled status once they have lived in the UK for five years. This cut-off date is yet to be agreed but will not be before 29 March 2017 or after we leave the EU (29 March 2019).

The technical note still leaves many unanswered questions but the main points in the document are: 

  • the UK will be bound by the obligations set out in the Withdrawal Agreement which will be incorporated in UK law;
  • a new system is being designed for EU nationals to apply for settled status and it is planned that this will be operational before we leave the EU;
  • individuals will be able to voluntarily make an application for their new settled status before the UK leaves the EU and for ‘around two years’ afterwards;
  • the fee for such an application will not exceed the cost of a British passport (currently £72.50 for an adult passport);
  • a simpler and cheaper process will be implemented for those EU nationals who hold a valid EEA permanent residence document to exchange this for a settled status document;
  • individuals will need to provide evidence that they were lawfully resident before the cut-off date;
  • those individuals who are unable to evidence five years’ continuous residency but arrived before the cut-off date will be given temporary status to allow them to stay in the UK for five years and then apply for settled status;
  • those individuals who are not successful in their application and who are in the UK after the specified period will secure another status to remain in the UK lawfully.

Click here to view the UKVI’s diagram outlining the proposed process.

Application process

In relation to the application process for settled status, the technical note confirms the following: 

  • the UKVI will take a pragmatic approach when looking at applications including:
    • not checking if comprehensive sickness insurance was held for those who were not economically active or studying;
    • not applying the genuine and effective work test;
    • not requesting information on undocumented periods if it is satisfied the residence requirements have been met.
  • while a photograph will need to be provided as part of the application process, other biometrics will not be taken eg fingerprints;
  • caseworkers will give applicants the opportunity to supply additional information before a decision is made on an application;
  • discretion will be exercised for those who do not make an application before the deadline if there are good reasons;
  • criminality checks will be undertaken. 

As is the case now, those individuals who wish to apply for British citizenship will need to obtain settled status first. 

Details on the temporary residence permit process are yet to be disclosed. However, the technical note confirms that those with temporary permission to stay will continue to have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.

Those who arrive after the cut-off date will need to obtain permission to stay in the UK, under the rules in place at the time, once the grace period has ended. There is no guarantee that these individuals will be able to meet the new rules and they may need to leave the UK if they are unable to secure permission to remain. 

When to apply

We are continuously asked when the right time is for EU nationals to make an application confirming their status in the UK. The answer will depend on each individual’s situation and specialist advice should be sought. For example, some EU nationals who are in the UK as students but don’t have comprehensive medical insurance may wish to wait and apply for settled status. Others, such as individuals who want to obtain British citizenship now will first need to apply for permanent residency.

The technical note is still only an informal document which offers helpful information and assurances but does not itself guarantee the rights of EU nationals. As more information is released, we will provide further updates. In the meantime, the immigration team at Penningtons Manches LLP is available to advise further.

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