The Home Office has unveiled plans for up to 3.8 million EU citizens living in the UK after its exit from the European Union.
The Governments Settlement Scheme will be compulsory for all EU citizens – including nationals from Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway living in the UK, and will allow both individuals and any family members who have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years by 2020 to apply for settled status. EU nationals that enter the UK before deadline at the end of 2020 will also be allowed to stay until they have met the five-year criteria before applying for settled status.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has indicated that the Governments default position on these cases would be to grant settlement status unless there was “a very good reason” for refusal.
The application process will require individuals to prove that they have no serious criminal convictions (anyone with a criminal record involving a jail sentence of more than 12 months is at risk of being declined) and provide a photo ID. This information will be automatically checked against HMRC and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) records to verify that they have been living in the UK. The Home Office will accept other proof of residence, including council tax bills, rental or mortgage statements, and utility bills for those applicants that do not wish to apply using their national insurance number and tax records.
To facilitate the swift processing of these applications – with most decisions to be completed within fourteen days as opposed to the typical six months, the scheme will allow the necessary information to be provided online or via a dedicated smartphone app (although technical restrictions currently exclude Apple devices from being used), and applicants without internet access will be encouraged to apply online at libraries and special contact centres or in some cases, visited at their home by immigration officials.
When the scheme is formally introduced later this year, the process will cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for children, however there will be no charge made to EU nationals who already have residency or indefinite leave to remain.