EU nationals should apply for Settled Status before 31 October

Settled status for EU nationals

How applying for Settled Status can make EU nationals living in the UK better prepared on the 31st October 2019 if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Ending Free Movement

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has decided that free movement laws that allow EU nationals to enter the UK will end overnight on the 31st October 2019. This means that EU nationals will no longer be able to enter the UK under the rules that are currently in place.

The government have not yet set out what the proposed new system of immigration controls will be for EU nationals once freedom of movement rules end. This is naturally a very worrying situation for the estimated 3.6 million EU nationals who are living in the UK. It may also cause concern to those EU nationals who were intending to travel and may be abroad on the 31st October 2019 whether for holiday (bearing in mind that this is a half-term break when many families will be vacationing abroad) or work reasons.

Although the Home Office have stated that they will allow EU nationals who are abroad back into the UK if they already live here, they have not explained how Immigration Officials at the border will be able to distinguish between those EU nationals who already reside in the UK and those who do not. How will they be able to distinguish between those who are seeking entry to the UK for the first time and those who have been already residing in the UK (even if for just a short period)? It is currently unclear.

However, there is a solution already available for EU nationals currently residing in the UK who want to have certainty over their right to remain in the UK even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on the 31st October 2019.

Applying for Settled Status

The Home Office have developed an application system for EU nationals to obtain a grant of leave to remain under the Immigration Rules. This system has been available to all EU nationals who live in the UK from the end of March 2019.

If an EU national has already lived in the UK for 5 years, they will be granted indefinite leave to remain (called ‘settled status’ under the new scheme). If the EU national has lived in the UK for less than 5 years, they can apply for a period of 5 years leave to remain (called ‘pre-settled status’). These types of status are granted under the UK’s Immigration Laws and are entirely independent of EU law. Therefore, whether the UK remains a part of the EU or not after the 31st October 2019, EU nationals who have obtained these forms of status will be allowed to freely travel into and out of the UK, they will continue to have the right to work, rent properties, hold a driving licence, claim public funds, use the NHS and so on. As the status granted is given under the Immigration Rules, the uncertainty that currently exists for EU nationals who are relying on EU laws to live in the UK, will be removed.

Just over a quarter of EU nationals living in the UK (approximately 1 million) have already applied for and received status under the settled status scheme. The application procedure itself is free and has been designed by the Home Office to be user-friendly to the Applicant. Turn-around times on decisions are quick, so that Applicants can usually expect to receive a decision within 1 – 2 weeks.

However, the numbers who have so far applied mean that almost three quarters of EU nationals who live in the UK have yet to make the application. It is unclear why so many have not yet made the application, but there are likely to be large groups of EU nationals who do not feel confident. Some individuals may feel unsure submitting an application, they may be unaware of the scheme, or they may not know that they need to apply. It may also be that some Applicants do not have access to the necessary equipment to make an application, one of the quirks of the scheme being that the ‘app’ that has been developed by the Home Office only works on certain Android devices.

OTB Legal’s Services

If you would like assistance submitting an application for settled status, we have specialist lawyers who can guide you through the application and make the process straightforward. We will advise on the documents needed to make the application, can provide an Android device and will deal with any follow up queries from the Home Office. Once you have received status under the scheme, you will no longer need to worry about what impact a ‘no-deal’ would have on your right to remain in the UK.

To find out more about the settled status services we offer, please see: https://otb.legal/settled-status/. You will find out about the costs that we charge and also have access to a free guide on making a settled status application.

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