There’s a lot of rumour flying around about the status of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK if we leave the EU, with or without a deal. The Home Office’s recent media helpsheet on this topic states that we will definitely be leaving. Even if you are still crossing your fingers that we will somehow be in the EU after 31 October this year it’s helpful to be clear how EU citizens who work with you on an ongoing basis can stay in the country. Below is a summary of the latest Home Office guidance on the status of EU nationals in the UK after 31 October 2019 if Brexit goes ahead and no deal is reached on freedom of movement.
- EU citizens and their families living in the UK at 31 October 2019 are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme. They will have until 31 December 2020 to apply to the Scheme if they have not already registered.
- EU citizens already living in the UK, who have not yet registered with the Settlement Scheme and who are abroad when free movement ends will still be eligible for the settlement scheme and the Home Office states “No one eligible for status will be barred from re-entering the UK when free movement ends.”
- EU citizens will still be able to come to the UK on holiday and for short trips.
- EU citizens and their families who are here before 31 October will be able to access benefits and services as they do now after free movement ends even if they haven’t applied for Settled Status by then, the Home Office says that they will prove their entitlement to work, benefits and services “in the same way as they do now”
- Applications for Settled Status are free and can be completed online. Applicants must be able to prove their identity, show that they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.
- Help applying for Settled Status is available from: EU Settlement Resolution Centre Telephone: 0300 123 7379 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm Questions can also be emailed via a form at https://eu-settled-status-enquiries.service.gov.uk/start
If we leave the EU with a deal the deadline will be later, 30 June 2021.
There are two levels of status that may be granted: Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status. The Home Office decides which is appropriate.
Settled Status gives indefinite leave to live in the UK and the right to apply for citizenship. It will usually be granted to those have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’) During those five years they need to have been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12 month period. With the following exceptions:
• One period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting)
• Compulsory military service of any length
• Time spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
• Time spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces
For those who have Settled Status, children born in the UK whilst they are living here will automatically be British citizens.
Pre-settled status Gives the right to stay in the UK for up to 5 years and can be changed to Settled Status after 5 years’ continuous residence. For those with Pre-Settled Status, any children born in the UK will be automatically eligible for Pre-Settled status.
Those with Settled or Pre-Settled status can:
• Work in the UK
• Use the NHS
• Enrol in education or continue studying
• Access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
• Travel in and out of the UK
Finally, it is not clear what will happen about bringing in EU citizens for short term work if we leave the EU. In theory a revised “points based” immigration system in on the horizon, if it is not in place when we leave the EU the current Tier 5 and Permitted Paid Engagement routes may have to apply or these engagements may count as “short trips”. Keep checking with ITC.