In our recent blog posts on German citizenship and the impact of Brexit, Passportia briefly outlined the new EU Settlement Scheme. The Home Office launched the public test phase for this scheme in January.
The new EU Settlement Scheme replaces EU Permanent Residency post-Brexit and is now open to resident EU citizens and their non-EU family members. Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are not yet eligible to apply but are expected to be able to do so when the scheme opens fully on 30th March 2019.
Benefits of the scheme
People who been resident continuously for 5 years will be eligible for a grant of indefinite leave to remain (“Settled Status”) under the new EU settlement scheme. Those who have been in the UK for less than 5 years will be granted limited leave to remain (“Pre-Settled Status”) with the prospect of settled status once they have reached 5 years of continuous residency. In contrast to EU Permanent Residency, which will end with the exit of the UK from the EU, the new settlement scheme will enable many EU citizens to obtain settled status who would have not have qualified otherwise. Specifically, self-sufficient people and students who will not be burdened by the requirement to have had comprehensive sickness insurance during the qualifying period.
It should be noted that, unlike EU Permanent Residency which can be effective from an earlier date, “Settled Status” is only effective from the date of grant.
How do I apply?
If you are eligible for the public test phase, you have to download the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app to verify your identity and personal details. Once this is done, you can complete your application on your smartphone, a desktop computer or laptop. Among other criteria, it is important that your mobile device is an Android 6.0 or above and has NFC. If you do not have such a smartphone, you can use somebody else’s device. The document check takes about 5-10 minutes.
When you continue with your application, make sure that you have your National Insurance Number at hand, since the Home Office will crosscheck your data for evidence of 5 years of continuous residence, usually through employment. The screen will then instantly show you whether you will be considered for settled or pre-settled status. In cases where your National Insurance Number does not show that you fulfil the residency requirements of 5 years, for example, because you were a student or self-sufficient person, you can still be considered for settled status by uploading evidence of residency. The rest of the application takes roughly 15-20 minutes to complete.
When Passportia tested the scheme for a case where the person had to submit such additional evidence of residency to be granted settled status, the positive decision came within 24 hours via email. However, as the number of applications for the new scheme is sure to rise, it is possible that waiting times may increase.
Please note that the test results provided by Passportia are only indicative and actual experience may vary depending on the complexity of each application.
Can Settled Status lead to British Citizenship?
Eligible persons may apply for British citizenship one year after the date received settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme as per the current immigration rules for indefinite leave to remain. However, you might be eligible to become a British citizen earlier, for example, if you are the spouse of a British citizen.
Under the current law, EU citizens who are able to obtain Permanent Residency in the UK are often able to claim British citizenship immediately due to the retroactive nature of Permanent Residency. Therefore, it is important to consider which option is most suitable to one’s circumstances when deciding whether to apply under the old (Permanent Residency) or new (Settlement) scheme before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.
What shall I do now?
This blog post is a summary of the new EU Settlement scheme and its public test phase. It is vital that anyone intending to register through the scheme carefully reads through the guidance on the Home Office website or speaks to a regulated OISC adviser before making an application.
Passportia provides advice and services on EU immigration law and has obtained solutions for many clients in difficult situations with exceptional satisfaction ratings.
To find out if you are eligible, contact Passportia on +44 (0) 20 3695 5383, or using the form in the sidebar if using a desktop.