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News added on 14.10.2019

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How do EU workers apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

The government has just announced that, according to its internal figures, there have been two million applications to the EU Settlement Scheme. The Scheme is designed to make it straightforward for EU citizens and their family members to stay in the UK after Brexit. If you have any EU workers who have not yet applied, what do they need to do and by when?

Although the more recent internal statistics show two million applications, the latest official statistics on the EU Settlement Scheme up to the end of September 2019 say that more than 1,800,000 applications had been received and more than 1,500,000 individuals had been granted settled or pre-settled status, providing them with an immigration status under UK law. The highest number of applications were from Polish, Romanian and Italian citizens.

The Scheme applies to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their families living in the UK whether there is a Brexit deal or not. Irish citizens do not need to apply. EU citizens and their non-EU family members can apply for settled status if they have been continuously resident in the UK for five years or more, or for pre-settled status if they have been resident in the UK for less than five years (but this can later be converted to settled status once the individual has five years’ residence, provided they do this before their pre-settled status expires). Settled status allows the individual to continue living and working in the UK indefinitely. Therefore, if you currently employ any EU workers who have not yet applied to the Scheme, you should actively encourage them to do so.

To be eligible to apply, the individual must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, or by exit day (currently scheduled to be 31 October 2019) if there is no deal. Applications are free and are made online using any device, such as a phone, laptop or computer. The online application process is relatively straightforward and requires the individual to complete three key steps - prove their identity, demonstrate that they live in the UK and declare any UK and overseas criminal convictions, but excluding spent convictions, cautions and alternatives to prosecution, e.g. speeding fines.

Identity can be proved by scanning a valid passport, biometric national identity card or biometric residence card using the “EU Exit: ID Document Check” app, currently only available on Android devices which have near-field communication (NFC). The app will, however, be available for iPhone by the end of 2019. Those without access to a suitable device can make an appointment to attend one of over 80 UK-wide locations to get their biometric identity document scanned (a fee may apply for this). Alternatively, they can post their identity document to the Home Office for checking - applicants must send their document by post if they have a non-EU or non-EEA passport, a biometric residence permit or a non-biometric ID card. Applicants will also need to upload a digital photo of their face as part of the online application. Proof of UK residence will usually be automatic for most applicants as tax and benefit records will be checked.

EU citizens and their family members have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply to the Scheme, extended to 30 June 2021 if there is a Brexit deal. To assist applicants with any queries, there is a helpline (0300 123 7379) that is open seven days a week. There is also a toolkit for employers.

If the individual’s application is successful, a letter will be e-mailed to them confirming their settled or pre-settled status. However, they cannot use the letter itself to prove their status. Instead, they will be able to view their status or prove it to someone else online.

Applications are free, made online, require proof of identity and UK residence and a declaration of criminal convictions. Identity can be proved by scanning the relevant ID document using an Android device app, attending a document scanner location or by submitting it by post. Proof of UK residence will usually be automatic as tax and benefit records will be checked. Applicants have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply to the Scheme.

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