The EU Settlement Scheme opened for a public test phase on 21 January 2019. EU citizens living in the UK will need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to stay in the UK after the planned Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.
The scheme is intended to implement the rules on citizens’ rights set out in the draft UK-EU withdrawal agreement – and in some ways it is more generous than those rules.
The British government has said in a policy paper published in December 2018 that it will still go ahead with the scheme if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 with no deal.
What is the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme?
The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021 if the UK leaves under a version of the current draft withdrawal agreement, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves with no deal.
Until 31 December 2020 EU citizens will be able to rely on an EU passport or identity card as evidence of their right to live and work in the UK. After that they will need to have either pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Who can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
The following people can apply during the public test phase:
- resident EU citizens with a valid EU passport and
- their non-EU citizen family members with a biometric residence card
Other EEA nationals (nationals of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) can’t apply during the public test phase. They will have to wait for the EU Settlement Scheme to become fully open in March 2019.
How do you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
To take part in the test phase you need access to an Android phone (not iPhone) with NFC (Near-Field Communication) contactless technology.
Download the EU Exit: ID Document Check app and use it to scan your passport and your face.
After using the app complete an online application. You will need to enter your National Insurance number, answer some basic questions, and pay the application fee by credit card.
How much does it cost to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
The application costs £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child. It is free for people who already have a permanent residence document. The Prime Minister has announced that these fees will be scrapped when the scheme is fully open on 30 March 2019 and that anyone who applies during the test phase will have their fee reimbursed.
What happens after you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
The Home Office will carry out automated checks with HMRC and DWP on your tax and benefits records, and a criminal record check.
If the automated checks indicate that you have been living in the UK for a continuous five year period and you do not have a serious criminal record you will be granted settled status. Settled status is a type of indefinite leave to remain and will allow you to live in the UK permanently.
If the checks indicate that you have been living in the UK for less than five years you will be offered pre-settled status. Pre-settled status is a five-year temporary status. You will be able to convert pre-settled status into settled status after completing five years’ continuous residence in the UK.
If you are offered pre-settled status but in fact you have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period you can upload copies of documents showing this. The Home Office has published a list of the documents which it accepts as evidence of residence. You don’t have to rely on the last five years. You can rely on any five-year period as long as you have not been absent from the UK for more than five years since the end of the five-year period.
You won’t get a document confirming your status. Instead you will be able to use an online service to view your status and to share the details with other people, such as employers and landlords.
Do you have to apply now to the EU Settlement Scheme?
You don’t have to apply now. Assuming the UK does actually leave the EU you will have to apply at some point between now and 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 if there is no deal). But in the current climate many people will want to apply sooner rather than later.