Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on the 23rd June 2016, one of our principal concerns as top immigration lawyers in London has been the impact this will have on EU and EEA nationals living in the UK.The need to avoid a repeat of the Windrush effect will be firmly in the mind of the new home secretary Sajid Javid as well as those working out the best way to set up the settled status application process that will form the basis of arrangements for EU citizens living in the UK post Brexit in 2020.
Agreement to avoid the Brexit Effect
The embarrassment surrounding the treatment of Commonwealth citizens whom arrived to the UK during the mid-20th Century will invariably be a clear point of discussion pointing to preparation for the status of EU and EEA citizens living in the United Kingdom.
Following the mounting ambiguity in terms of the UK position following the referendum, the United Kingdom finally reached an arrangement with the European Union in December 2017, an agreement echoed within a draft treaty published in March 2018 intended to circumvent any negative Brexit repercussions for these individuals, for whom many have already re-established their lives here in the UK.
Significant points of that agreement being:
EU citizens living lawfully and continuously in the UK for a least 5 years before 31 December 2020 can make a settled status application. Settled status means that they will be able to stay in the UK indefinitely, with access to public funds and services. They can then go on to apply for British citizenship should they choose.
EU citizens in the UK on that date but who can’t fulfil the 5 years’ residence requirement can apply to stay in the UK until they have 5 years’ residence, when they can then apply for settled status.
EU citizens who arrive in the UK after the date we leave the EU but during the transition period will also be able to register for temporary residence status after 3 months, with a view to obtaining settled status after 5 years.
The draft treaty additionally contains provisions covering family members, extending past the 31st of December 2020, so far as the relationship had already existed at that date. Those hoping to make an EEA application will have to wait while negotiations continue between the UK government and those of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and also Lichtenstein.
Settled Status Application
Recognised as top immigration lawyers in London, what is our view in relation to settled status applications? This new system is intended to be initiated during 2018, and we understand the Government has published information on its website with some information, however nobody is certain what form the settled status will take. In anticipation to this our lawyers have pre-empted all eventual outcomes and are working hard in order to be ready once the system initiates.
From our understanding
An online application with options to submit a paper-based application will be available.
Applicants will be required to verify their identity together with a recent photograph, as well as a declaration of any criminal convictions.
Existing data in relation to supporting your application will be gathered via existing government records such as HRMC and DWP, given that the data will already be linked to the application, the information will be readily available.
Options to verify applications will also be available where government data or evidence is incorrect or inaccessible.
Whereas indications from the Government have suggested that settled status applications would apply to individuals exercising their treaty rights and working within the UK, Immigration minister, The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP has suggested that basic conditions to be met may be that of the EU citizen establishing residency in the UK for the given 5-year period.
With many more matters related to settled status yet to be fully agreed upon, it does appear that system is geared towards a partiality of consenting settled status in the majority of cases, with the exception of a refusal potentially being refused based on the grounds of serious criminal convictions.
Any European Citizens whom by the end of the transition, have resided within the UK for less than the 5-year period will still be permitted to remain within the UK, however will be required to apply for temporary residency status by the 30th of June 2021. This enables them to stay long enough to acquire their 5 years residence following this with an application for settled status.
The other eventually being should the European Union citizen arrive after the UK has left the European Union, but prior to the end of the transition period, they will be required to make an application for temporary residency after a period of 3 months, despite the fact they will be permitted to live and work. The individual will then be permitted to reside for a period of 5 years to make an application for settled status.
Deadlines still apply for a settled status application
As leading immigration solicitors in London, Gulbenkian Andonian have observed how the Windrush fiasco has overwhelmed the lives of many Commonwealth citizens who have for many years been legally in the UK In a comparable parallel, many EU citizens within the UK have been living in ambiguity in terms of their future in the UK. In a situation that demonstrates resemblances of the Windrush scandal, an opportunity to make an application for settled status, or to obtain temporary residence status, allowing individuals to accrue 5 years residence, will only remain open until the 30th of June 2021. Individuals missing this deadline may find themselves in a similar situation to the Windrush generation.
Resolving the status of EU and EEA citizens is part of our expertise as immigration lawyers in London. Since 1985, we have specialised within Immigration and Human Rights with our lawyers also being considered as experts within the law around EU citizenship. We rank as top in the Legal 500 within Immigration and Human Rights and can advise individuals on all aspects of Immigration status.