What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme (which originally went live on 21 January 2019) has been fully open since 30 March 2019 and there have been over 2.2 million applications in total. There were over half a million applications received in September 2019 alone. The scheme processes the applications of European Union (EU) citizens currently living in the UK to allow them to remain in the UK after Brexit. There are about three million EU citizens living in the UK who will need to apply for the scheme.

If you are considering applying under the Scheme, you will have until 30 June 2021 to apply, or until 31 December 2020 in a no-deal scenario. Concerns remain over the large number of individuals who have not yet applied, the decreasing application volume and slower processing times of existing applications (likely to be due to a backlog).

The Home Office said its own survey showed 77 per cent of applicants said it was “very easy” or “fairly easy” to complete the application. The department also said it had more than 1,500 members of staff working on the scheme, including to help people apply.

However, in another online survey posted by the charity Migrant Voice, it was reported that hundreds of people eligible to apply for settled status responded to another online survey to say they had found the process difficult, with many experiencing technical glitches and difficulties proving their identity. A quarter of respondents reported having been asked to provide further evidence of their residence in the UK beyond their National Insurance Number, despite the department stating that in “most cases” this would be sufficient.

Anyone who is a citizen of an EU country currently living in the UK and who wants to carry on living in the UK, will need to apply to the scheme – even if they are married to someone British.

Ministers have said that EU nationals who by the end of 2020 have lived in the UK for five years,  will be granted settled status, unless they have serious criminal convictions or there is a security reason for why they can’t stay. People who are granted settled status will only need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once. Settled status will grant a person the same rights to healthcare, education, benefits and pensions as a British citizen.

If somebody from an EU country lives in the UK, but has not been here for the required five years, can be given a pre-settled status. This will allow them to stay in the UK until they hit the five-year mark. Then, they will need to claim settled status. The Home Office states the average processing time for an application is five days or longer depending on the case.

We would encourage you not to delay your application; please do get in contact with us should you need any assistance or further information regarding Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme.