On 21 June 2018, the Home Office published details of the EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens and their families. Provided they meet eligibility requirements, they will be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status and continue to enjoy the same rights in the UK with the same access to work, study, benefits and public services.
The Scheme will be opening from later this year with full roll-out by 30 March 2019 and will be open till 30 June 2021. It means there is no need to do anything immediately, EU nationals and their families are given enough time to apply for settlement.
The application process is said to be simple and straightforward, with minimum evidence burden. It will be streamlined and digitalised; identity can be verified through a special app. The Government will work with applicants to help them avoid any errors or omissions. They will also be testing the system and improving it through user groups to make sure all the processes work effectively.
Key points of the EU Settlement Scheme
- EU citizens and their families who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously residing in the UK for 5 years will be eligible for settlement enabling them to stay indefinitely;
- EU citizens and their families who, by 31 December 2020, arrive in the UK but will not have been resident here for 5 years, will be eligible for pre-settled status. Once they reach the 5-year threshold they can apply for settlement;
- Close family members (spouse, dependent child, parent, etc.) living overseas will be able to join an EU national resident in the UK after 31 December 2020 where the relationship existed on that date and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK.
- Future children are protected.
To apply for settlement, EU nationals have to meet the following criteria:
- Their identity will need to be verified
- 5 years of continuous and legal residence in the UK (pre-settled status is also available for under-5-year residents)
- Clean criminal record in the UK and overseas
The cost of application is £65 for applicants over 16 and £32.5 for applicants under 16. However, it is free of charge for holders of permanent residence permit and ILR document.