What is the current status of the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme?

Katie Smith, July 31, 2019

What is the Scheme?

According to the UK Government’s current position on Brexit, all EU, EEA or Swiss citizens presently residing in the UK will need to apply to the ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ to continue living in the country after 30 June 2021. Individuals can also apply when they are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but they must have an eligible family member who does hold a relevant citizenship.

Exemptions may apply

The EEA comprises EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – citizens of these countries will also be subject to the scheme. There are some exemptions, for example those individuals with pre-existing indefinite leave to enter or remain within the UK or people with Irish citizenship. ‘Frontier workers’ may also be exempt if they work in the UK but live elsewhere. Successful applicants will receive either settled or pre-settled status in the UK.

Application Statistics

According to statistics published by the UK Government, 909,300 applications were received by the end of June 2019. Of these, 805,500 applications were completed by the end of June. 65% of completed applications were granted settled status and 35% were granted pre-settled status. This being the case we are left with the result that 0% of applicants have been entirely denied, receiving either settled or pre-settled status as a result of their application.

What are the similarities?

Individuals with either settled or pre-settled status will be able to make use of the following rights and services within the UK:

  • Rights to work throughout the UK
  • Access to medical treatment as part of NHS services
  • The ability to enrol onto educational courses or continued study
  • If eligible, access to publicly funded benefits and pensions
  • Applicants can travel in and out of the UK

What are the differences?

The main differences between settled and pre-settled statuses are as follows:

Settled

  • Applicants will have already lived continuously in the UK for 5 years+.
  • Individuals with settled status can remain in the UK for as long as they choose.
  • Eligible individuals will be able to apply for British citizenship.
  • Individuals with settled status are able to spend up to 5 continuous years outside the UK without losing their settled status (for Swiss citizens this is reduced to 4 continuous years).

Pre-Settled

  • Applicants will have lived continuously in the UK for less than 5 years.
  • If at some point before 30 December 2020, applicants will reach 5 years of continuously living in the UK, they can choose to hold their application until they become eligible to apply for settled status (meaning they will avoid having to apply for pre-settled status beforehand).
  • Successful applicants will be eligible to remain in the UK for 5 years from the date pre-settled status is granted.
  • Applicants can apply to change from pre-settled to settled status following 5 years’ of continuously living in the UK.
  • Individuals with pre-settled status are able to spend up to 2 continuous years outside the UK without losing their pre-settled status.

Are appeals available?

Freemovement.org has suggested that ‘While there have not been any refusals, the [Government] statistics do not tell us how many people were granted pre-settled status when they should have been granted settled status. The Home Office are not treating the refusal of settled status as an immigration decision, so no one is being refused settled status; they are simply told that they are getting pre-settled status instead. Applicants cannot challenge this decision’. This being the case, there appears to be no appeal rights on status decisions. 

The status of children

Children born to individuals with settled status whilst living in the UK will be automatically become British citizens. Children born to individuals with pre-settled status whilst living in the UK will receive pre-settled status only (unless one of the parents has a qualifying status or citizenship which may enable the child to become a British citizen). The status of family members who are not the offspring of applicants is rather more complicated...

The status of family members

UK Government guidance on the status of family members being brought over to the UK by those citizens eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme remains somewhat vague. Suggestions for appropriate courses of action are listed in both cases of whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal or without a deal. It is clear that Brexit uncertainty continues with concrete information on this part of the scheme still lacking...

Ambiguous Guidance

Immediate family members can join applicants in the UK before 31 December 2020 (or 31 December 2025 for Swiss citizens). Family members will be required to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme upon arrival. Some individuals may still be able to bring family members after 31 December 2020, however, the ambiguity of Government guidance states ‘It will depend on where you’re from, when your relationship with your family member started, and whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal’. Family visas may also be applicable.

No Deal Brexit

For EU citizens, immediate family members will be able to join them in the UK up until 29 March 2022, however they must meet the following criteria:

  • The relationship began before 31 December 2020
  • The relationship remains when they apply to join their family member in the UK

Citizens of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, will be able to bring immediate family members after the UK leaves the EU (assuming Brexit finally occurs) if both the following apply:

  • The relationship began before the UK left the EU
  • The relationship remains when they apply to join their family member in the UK

Brexit with a deal

Citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, will be able to bring immediate family members to the UK after 31 December 2020 if they meet the following criteria:

  • The relationship began before 31 December 2020
  • The relationship remains when they apply to join their family member in the UK

Swiss citizens will be able to bring close family members to the UK after 31 December 2025; however they must meet the following criteria:

  • The relationship began before 31 December 2025
  • The relationship remains when they apply to join their family member in the UK

Future applications

Whilst this blog has highlighted the number of applications in progress or completed up until June 2019 (as per Government statistics), there is no confirmation of the number of individuals that still need to apply but are yet to do so. There is also a lack of predictions as to the numbers of individuals that are likely to be granted either settled or pre-settled status moving forward, and whether there are likely to be any refused applications (though there have been none refused so far). This large data gap only serves to increase the confusion surrounding migration to and from the UK in the wake of Brexit. Further developments are anticipated with repeated calls for clarity from all parties.

Written by Katie Smith - Assoc CIPD, BA Hons, Head of Special Projects - HR, Talent & Content at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd

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