- Streamlined application system
A new system is being designed for this application process, with special care taken to support the applicants. User groups consisting of EU citizens living in the UK, digital, technical and legal experts have been set up to help design the scheme and ensure a smooth operation, so that user needs can be understood. The UK is designing a streamlined, user-friendly, digital application process, including an assisting digital service for those who need support to make an online application. The aim is to develop a system which uses existing government data to verify residence as a worker. The government will try to minimise the number of documents needed to make this verification.
- There will be sufficient time for those currently living in the UK to make their application after Brexit, as the government recognises the scale of the challenge of granting status to so many citizens. A voluntary application process will also be set up before leaving the EU, for those who wish to get their new status as soon as possible.
- Excluding this voluntary scheme, the period in which applications can be made is expected to last for around 2 years after Brexit. During this time, the rights and status of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK will be protected.
Cost: this application will not cost more than that of a British passport.
- There will be a simple process for those who hold a valid EEA permanent residence document, to exchange it for a settled status document. All this will require is ID verification and a photograph, a security check, and confirmation of ongoing residence. This process will cost less than the application process as outlined above.
- People will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK during the implementation period, and there will be a registration system for this.
Criteria for granting status and circumstances under which status may be refused
EU citizens and their family member must be granted status by the UK authorities, on providing evidence of lawful residency, unless one of the grounds for refusal is met. Otherwise, the authorities cannot refuse an application.
The conditions for EU citizens acquiring permanent residence/settled status:
- 5 years
- Continuous and lawful residence
- As a worker, self-employed person, student, self-sufficient person.
- Or family member thereof.
Pragmatic approach to the application of agreed conditions: for example, the government will not apply a genuine and effective work test (*N.B.* Their commitment to do this was not, however, codified in the technical agreement between the EU and UK from the first phase of negotiations). Nor will it check whether sickness insurance has been held by those who are studying or are not economically active. When they are satisfied that overall the residency requirements have been met, they will not need to account for any undocumented periods. This means that individuals are not required to account for every trip that they have taken in and out of the UK.
Less than 5 years of continuous residence: applicants who can prove continuous residence before the date, but not 5 years or more, will be given temporary status. This will then allow them to remain in the UK until they have built up to 5 years’ continuous residence, then allowing them to apply for settled status.
Refused applications: it is expected, subject to final agreement with the EU, that the circumstances in which an application may be refused will be either because the applicant was not a resident before the specified date, because they did not meet the conditions in the Withdrawal Agreement, or because of grounds of criminality or security.
Support for applicants: To avoid any errors or omissions, and to support applicants generally, there will be UK authorities to help out with applications. What is more, on reviewing the applications, where it seems as though simple errors have been made, applicants will be allowed to revise their applications before the final decision.
Administrative review mechanism: quickly resolves case-working errors. In addition, applicants will be allowed to make an appeal to the UK courts, to examine the decision to refuse or revoke status. Whilst an appeal is pending, the individual can stay in the UK, unless they are in breach of a deportation order. In that case, an appeal can be made, but it will not prevent removal.
UK immigration status and late applications: individuals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be required to hold a UK immigration status to lawfully stay in the UK after the period of time specified by the UK authorities. For those who miss the deadline for application: where a decision has not been made regarding an application, before the deadline, the applicant may remain in the UK until a decision is made. A proportionate consideration will be made where individuals have not applied before the deadline or not at all.
Unlawful residence: an individual will be in the UK unlawfully after the period has elapsed, if they apply for status but do not fall within the scope of the Agreement. This means that they will not be entitled to access work or other services and may be asked to leave.