Thu 13 Dec 2018

The settled status scheme and its pilot scheme feedback

What is the EU Settlement Scheme? The United Kingdom is due to exit from the EU on 29 March 2019 in line with the terms of its Article 50 notice. The UK government has made a commitment to protect the legal position of EU citizens and their family members currently living in the UK. This includes their continued right to live, work and access public services, such as the NHS and public funds in the United Kingdom. 

To retain their rights after 31 December 2020, eligible EU citizens must apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The current position of the UK Government is that EU citizens who do not register under the Scheme by the deadline will be treated as overstayers. 

The Scope of the Scheme

People residing in the United Kingdom by 31 December 2020 will be eligible to apply and have to do so by 30 June 2021. Certain close family members will be able to join resident EU citizens after the 31 December 2020 and they will have three months after their arrival to apply for status under the Scheme. The timeframes may change slightly in light of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

The Pilot - testing the Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme is currently being tested in various pilots ahead of the public launch of the service (due by March 2019).

The first phase of the pilot took place between 28 August and 17 October 2018 and was extended to EU citizens and their family members employed at selected NHS trusts along with students/staff from selected Liverpool Universities. All 1053 applications for settled status under this pilot were successful and the applicants were granted Status under the Scheme.

The overall feedback was that the application was quick and easy to complete with most applicants completing the application within half an hour, or less.


The Application

The application will generally be done online. However, according to the Home Office Statement of Intent issued this June "Consideration is also being given to the particular circumstances in which the provision of a paper application form may be appropriate." This reflects a recent dramatic change in the way immigration applications are being processed - you can find more information on these changes here.

All applicants must start the process by verifying their identity. This can be done by using an Android app EU Exit: ID Document Check. Apple devices do not currently support the app. Alternatively, when the scheme launches in March 2019 the applicant may send their passport to the Home Office for checking or attend a face-to-face appointment.

Supporting documents showing the required period of residence can be scanned across or photographed and sent for consideration to the Home Office. The Home Office reserves their right to ask for originals, but this is unlikely to be a common requirement.

The application fee is £65 for adults and £32.50 for children but it is free for people who have Permanent Residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Immigration Rules.

The Settlement Scheme operates by performing a search against the applicant's HMRC records, which will streamline the majority of the applications. However, this may cause problems if there are any irregularities, such as name matching issues or applicant error when entering their National Insurance number. As many as 96% of the applications in the first pilot were successfully matched to the HMRC records. In the event that the National Insurance record is not sufficient the applicant will be considered for Pre-Settled Status but will have the opportunity to submit supporting evidence to demonstrate eligibility for Settled Status.

Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status

Settled Status will operate similarly to Indefinite Leave to Remain, while Pre-Settled Status will operate similarly to limited Leave to Remain. The position is that people with Settled Status will be eligible to live, work and access services in the UK. People with Pre-Settled Status will be given five years Leave to Remain, after which they can apply for Settled Status. This will be on the proviso that they remain eligible and their continuity of residence has not lapsed.

If someone is still considering becoming a dual national, they may wish to consider applying for Permanent Residence now to accelerate the process.

If you have any questions about the best route for you please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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