The Home Office has revealed how EU nationals can apply for ‘settled status’, allowing them to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.
EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years will need to prove their identity, show that they have a UK address and declare they have no serious criminal convictions in order to gain the new immigration status. Their employment and benefit records will also be checked.
Immigration minister Caroline Noakes said the government recognised that EU citizens make a huge contribution to the UK economy and society: “This is an important step which will make it easy for EU citizens to get the status they need to continue working and living here.
“We are demonstrating real progress and I look forward to hearing more detail on how the EU will make reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals living in the EU,” she said.
It will cost £65 per adult to apply for settled status and £32.50 for children under 16. Those who already have permanent residence documentation or indefinite leave to remain will be able to exchange it for settled status for free.
The settlement scheme will be phased in from later this year and is expected to go fully live by 30 March 2019 – the day after the UK leaves the EU. EU nationals will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the new immigration status.
Those who have not lived in the UK for five years will be issued with ‘pre-settled status’. Once they have been a resident for five years, they will be able to apply for settled status free of charge from April 2019.
Rachel Harvey, associate at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, welcomed the announcement but said the UK’s ‘immigration puzzle’ was far from complete: “The streamlined online application system will be welcomed by EU nationals currently living in the UK, but it still leaves questions unanswered for employers looking to recruit EU employees after the implementation period ends.
“This announcement makes it clear what needs to be done to help EU workers remain living and working in the UK up until 31 December 2020 and will help employers set out a clear recruitment strategy.”
Health and social care group the Cavendish Coalition said the announcement will provide clarity for employees working in the UK and those planning to move here to begin work.
Co-chair Danny Mortimer said: “We are pleased the system is still on track to open to applications later this year. It is imperative this process is fast, simple and with a low administrative burden for individuals.
“We look forward to engaging with the Home Office as they develop the final stages of the system and their plans for communicating with employers and staff. Getting this right will be essential to a successful implementation.”