Brexit – EU Settlement Scheme open to public from 21 January 2019 during expanded test phase
- The EU Settlement Scheme is being opened further on 21 January 2019.
- From 21 January 2019 all EU nationals, as well as their non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card, will be able to register their citizens’ rights in the UK via the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Under the EU Settlement Scheme:
- those with 5 years’ or more residence in the UK will be granted “settled status” and a right to a permanent stay in the UK;
- those with less than five years’ residence would receive “pre-settled status” with an option to re-register as “settled” in due course after Brexit.
- EU Settlement Scheme applications are not mandatory at this stage.
- EU citizens wanting to stay in the UK will still have until 30 June 2021 to apply, in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement
- By choosing to apply from 21 January, EU nationals applicants will provide valuable insight into the system’s functions and allow adaptions to be made prior to full launch on 30 March 2019.
- Applicants during this expanded test phase must use the EU Exit: Identity Document Check app which is part of the integrated online application process to prove their identity and then National Insurance Number records, or other official documents, to prove residence.
The UK’s EU Settlement Scheme was put into the UK immigration rules in August 2018, and has since been undergoing trials, initially with select universities and NHS trusts in the North West, and then more widely in the NHS, with a full launch not expected by 30 March 2019. To date, 15,500 applications have been made, with 12,400 registrations completed, suggesting that the scheme is effective in delivering its aims (although a full report in January will provide more details).
This announcement means that the EU Settlement Scheme will be available to EU nationals in the UK sooner than many employers and employees expected. While registrations are voluntary, this announcement may encourage a surge of applications. Employers looking to support employees with applications should be prepared for further questions about the scheme and should adapt any Brexit communications or events in light of this updated timetable.