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Brexit Q&A: Immigration

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With the departure of the UK from the EU, the end of free movement will bring substantial changes to the immigration landscape in the UK. All EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK have to apply for status under the EU settlement scheme to retain their current rights.

I am an EU citizen living in the UK, and I already hold a card certifying permanent residence. Do I have to do anything?

Yes, you must apply for settled status before 30.06.2021. Permanent residence cards issued under the EEA regulations will not be valid after 31.12.2020.

What documents do I need to apply for settled status? 

A valid passport or ID card, and evidence of having lived in the UK for five continuous years for settled status, or have been present in the UK for at least one day in the last six months for pre-settled status. There is no need to be employed, show any level of funds, or have medical insurance; settled status is granted based on residence in the UK. Your national insurance records will normally prove your residence if you have been in employment, and no other proof of residence will be required. If the automated checks don’t work, there will be a number of items you can use to prove residence, such as council tax bills or bank statements.

My non EU family members have residence cards which will still be valid long after the end 2020. Do they have to apply?

Yes, these changes also apply to non EU family members of EU citizens, who have been previously issued with bio-metric residence cards. They will not be given a new card when applying under the EU settlement scheme, as it will be an online status linked to their current document. They can later apply for a card to reflect their new status if they wish to, but this must be done separately and after their application is approved.

I am married to a British citizen, and have lived here for many years. Do I still have to apply? 

Yes, every EEA citizen, including children, must apply, unless they already hold Indefinite Leave or have acquired British citizenship. Holders of the blue Permanent Residence cards issued under the EEA regulations also have to apply. The only exception are Irish citizens, who can settle freely in the UK, thanks to the Common Travel Area agreement between the UK and Ireland which precedes the European regulations.

I have a company which employs EEA citizens, what measures do I have to take?

You can continue to employ EEA citizens during the implementation period, and until 30.06.2021, which is the deadline to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. No additional documents other than showing an EEA passport or ID card will be required. We do recommend that employers raise awareness amongst their existing staff of the need to apply for status by this date, but they cannot request evidence until it becomes compulsory, as this would be discriminatory. From July 2021 onwards, every non British worker will have to show their permission to work in the UK, and companies will be liable for penalties if they are found to employ workers who do not hold the correct permission to work in the UK.

Will I be able to hire EEA workers after the implementation period?

The government is currently working on the new immigration rules that will apply from 2021. It is likely that European workers will be subject to the same conditions as any other non EU applicant coming to the UK on a work visa, which will require a qualified job offer form a Home Office registered sponsor. The Home Office will announce the specific criteria later in 2020.

I intend to relocate to the UK in the near future, will I be able to live and work then?

You can relocate to the UK during the implementation period. As long as you establish your residence by 31.12.2020 you will still be eligible for pre-settled status, and after five years’ residence in the UK, settled status.

Can I bring family members after the implementation period?

You can, as long as you were living in the UK by the end of 2020 and the relationship existed before that date. This applies to spouses, descendants, parents and grandparents. The exception is unmarried partners and other extended family members, which will have to prove they held a document under the EEA regulations confirming their eligibility as previously recognised family members. If they do not have one, they will have meet the requirements via the regular domestic routes available to non EU migrants.

Will I get a card as proof of my status?

No, EEA citizens will only receive an online status, and will have to use the Home Office online portal to prove their settled or presettled status to third parties whenever necessary. There will be no physical card except for non EEA family members, who require one to facilitate their travel in and out of the UK.  

Marta Mendiondo

Marta Mendiondo Head of Immigration

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