As the date on which Britain will exit the European Union draws ever closer, and with a continued lack of clarity on how Brexit will affect us, it is undoubtedly a difficult and unsettling time for both EU citizens and their families in the UK, and for their employers.
Whilst there is no requirement for employers to explicitly advise employees of what they need to do to remain in the UK, EML has been providing clients with relevant and practical information on the EU Settlement Scheme, so that they can communicate this to affected employees.
So what is the EU Settlement Scheme?
In the simplest of terms, it is an application to the Home Office for EU citizens and their family members who wish to remain and work in the UK after the withdrawal agreement transition period, or after a no-deal Brexit.
As we are seeing on an almost daily basis with all Brexit related issues, there is always scope for change, but the position at present is that EU citizens and their families who are currently living in the UK will be able to apply to the scheme to enable them to continue living, and therefore working, in the UK after 30 June 2021.
When does the EU Settlement Scheme open?
The scheme will be fully open by 30th March 2019, but individuals meeting certain criteria are able to apply now. The absolute deadline for applications will be 30th June 2021, or (31st December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU with “no-deal”), on the condition that they are a resident as of 31st December 2020.
To be eligible for settled status applicants will usually need to have lived in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period for 5 years in a row, and they will need to provide proof of this when applying. In saying this, individuals may still be eligible if they have not lived in the UK for 5 years in a row. A national insurance number can be given to allow an automated check to be performed based on tax records. If the check is successful, no further proof will be required.
The applicant, if successful, will be able to remain in the UK, either on a settled or pre-settled status, (if pre-settled, a further application would be required in 5 years’ time). If unsuccessful, there will be the opportunity to apply for an administrative review, or there may be the option to appeal, but this is still subject to approval by parliament. If the application is refused, the applicant can re-apply as many times as they wish.
The application form will be online and can be completed on any suitable device (smart phone, tablet, laptop etc.). There will be support available from relevant departments over the phone if assistance is required. An Android phone will be required to scan any documents (such as a Valid Passport or National Identity Card), but these can be sent in the post if such access is not available. The Android phone does not have to be that of the applicant. There will be a number of easily accessible organisations that can scan the documents for the applicants, but there may be a fee for this.
What does it cost to apply?
There is now no cost for the application, and anyone who has already paid the £65 fee will be able to get this refunded.
Whilst there is no obligation for employers to take any action on this, to enable accurate resource planning it would be prudent for them to give due care and attention to safeguarding the status of their European workforce and to play an active role in encouraging affected employees to consider their status early and apply for the most appropriate documentation. This can be done by hosting information workshops with immigration experts or by signposting employees to useful sources of information. The government has released a toolkit to help employers navigate these murky waters.
Should you require any guidance or support on any matter related to Eligibility to Work, our consultants at EML can offer practical advice and guidance on this. Contact us on 01942 727200 to discuss how we can help.