With Brexit just around the corner and a no deal looking more likely, what are the implications for EU citizens?
Brexit is now looming uncomfortably large for everyone. For all the difficulties surrounding the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK is still due to leave the EU on 29th March 2019. However, while many of the details about how the UK will leave remain up in the air, the Government has at least confirmed that the European Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will still be implemented even in the event of a no deal.
Already being trialled in some parts of the UK, the EUSS is intended to give EU citizens in the UK a degree of certainty. It implements the citizens’ rights aspect of the Withdrawal Agreement and allows EU citizens to achieve either pre-settled or settled status.
In many ways it goes further than the withdrawal agreement, but with that agreement looking unlikely to pass parliament – at least in its current form – there may still be changes to the way it is rolled out.
Getting ready for Brexit
Goodwille, together with the expert immigration lawyers at North Star Law, have compiled in diagram format three main questions which we feel address the primary issues surrounding EU citizens’ rights in post-Brexit UK.
The diagram is aimed at both EU citizens, who are currently resident in the UK, as well as non-EU family members of an EU citizen (who is resident in the UK), and who arrives to the country before December 2020. However, although a no deal scenario would remove the transition period and mean any new arrivals would have to enter the UK by March 2019 in order to be eligible for the EUSS, we have also considered this scenario and shown what might then be done.
In either case, EU citizens living in the UK can apply for either settled or pre-settled status. Those EU citizens who have lived in the UK for less than 5 years when applying will have to apply for pre-settled status, whereas those who have lived more than 5 years in the UK will be able to apply for settled status. Moreover, the diagram also considers those persons who already hold a permanent residence document and are thinking about applying for British citizenship.
The deadline for applying for pre-settled or settled status will vary depending on whether the UK leaves with or without a deal. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, you can apply for settled or pre-settled status up until June 2021, but this is shortened to December 2020 under a no-deal scenario.
However, if you’re an Irish national, the good news is none of this applies to you. You’ll be treated as settled in the UK, but any non-EU family members will have to apply under EUSS. If you come from Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland, you are not currently covered by EUSS, but you should be by March 2019.
Applying is relatively simple and straightforward, and the government has recently announced that the application fees will be scrapped. If you fulfil all the requirements, you should have few problems having your status confirmed, unless you have any criminal convictions. You may also have to provide additional evidence if HMRC records do not prove five years of continuous residence when applying for settled status.
We understand the uncertainty surrounding the fate of all EU citizens in the UK in a post-Brexit Britain can be distressing, and we hope our diagram will shed some light on the process, forward you to relevant sites and offer professional guidance concerning any aspects of the relevant law, and hopefully, provide you with a piece of mind.