Time is running out to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Here's how your agency can support your candidates (who are EU EEA citizens) in applying to stay in the UK post-Brexit.

background

EU citizens, non-EU EEA, Swiss citizens and the eligible family members of all of them who are in the UK beyond 31 December 2020 will need to have immigration permission (either through the EU settlement scheme or through another category of the UK's Immigration Rules).

The EU settlement scheme is designed to offer EU, non-EU EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before 31 December 2020, and their eligible family members, the opportunity to protect their residence in the UK after 31 December 2020.

For eligible applicants, the deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021. The consequences of not applying for either pre-settled status or settled status by then will result in that person being in the UK unlawfully.

All eligible individuals would be best advised to apply now before it is too late. The general position on deadlines has been set out below.

  • Existing residents – EU nationals and their non EU family members that are resident in the UK prior to the end of the year can apply for the scheme up until 30 June 2021. All EU nationals must apply even if they already had a residence permit or permanent residence under the previous regime. However, this does not apply to Irish citizens, EU nationals who have obtained British citizenship, or the small number of EU nationals that have indefinite leave to remain.
  • EEA citizens coming to UK in 2021 onwards – generally these individuals will be under the new regime. However, if they are joining an EU family member already resident in the UK by 31 December 2021 then they may be able to apply to join them under the scheme. However, in most cases they will need to apply outside of the UK rather than coming here as a visitor and then applying.
  • Non EU national family members of EU nationals coming to UK in 2021 onwards – Again if the relationship existed prior to 2021, the family member was already resident in the UK and they are coming to the UK to join them then it will be possible to apply for a family permit to do this.

Other important things to note include the fact that:

  • Pre settled status holders can apply for settled status as soon as they have five years of continuous residence in the UK. This means that applications for settled status will continue to be made until 2025 at least.
  • “Surinder Singh” applications (where a British national lives in another EU country with a non EU family member and wants to move back to the UK) can continue to be made up until 29 March 2022 as long as the relationship existed before 31 January 2020 (unless if a child).
  • Non EU family members of Northern Irish citizens should consider whether it would be worthwhile applying under the scheme (since changes on 24 August 2020 have made this possible) before it is too late as this could save a great deal of money compared to continuing on the UK immigration route.
  • Unlike with the previous system, it is no longer a requirement for the individual to be exercising treaty rights so there is no requirement to be working (meaning that certain individuals that were potentially here unlawfully on this technical point now have an amnesty to apply under the settled status scheme).
  • However, if your candidates want to apply for British citizenship at the end of the process and they are not working, then they will need to obtain “comprehensive sickness insurance” as this is still a requirement despite the fact that the individual would have had unrestricted access to the NHS during this time.

advice to AGENCIES

There is no legal obligation for you to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme to your candidates, however, to retain your current workers (EU & EEA citizens) post-Brexit, you may wish to direct individuals to the information that the government is providing using materials from the employer toolkit on the GOV.UK website, which includes a draft communication for you to send on to your workers. 

See here the latest advice to employers regarding the UK's departure from the EU and how it affects your organisation. 

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