Virginia, US

Mar 07 2019

EU Settlement Scheme Available to All Applicants on March 30, 2019

United Kingdom

The situation

The UK government has announced that the EU Settlement Scheme will open to all European Economic Area (EEA) (which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Swiss applicants on March 20, 2019, following a successful pilot period that brought in over 150,000 applications for settled status in the United Kingdom. The EU Settlement Scheme has been open to most EU nationals since the launch of the pilot period.

A closer look

  • Who is eligible for the program? Starting March 30, 2019, the EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open to European Economic Area (EEA)/Swiss nationals and their family members residing in the United Kingdom. The government has confirmed that this will include nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members; and the family members of British nationals who were exercising their free movement rights under EU law before returning to the United Kingdom. As announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year, all applications after March 30, 2019 will be free. Those who previously paid a fee will be able to have the money refunded.
  • Proof of identity. Applicants will be able to use a wider range of documents as proof of their identity and nationality, including valid national identity cards or valid passports. Non-EEA/Swiss family members can rely on valid passports, valid biometric residence cards or residence cards issued by the United Kingdom under EEA regulations. Documents with biometric data can be scanned using a mobile application. Others would need to be mailed or brought to a filing centre.
  • Applications from abroad for EEA/Swiss citizens. Starting April 9, 2019, applications under the Scheme for EEA/Swiss citizens and certain family members can be made from outside the United Kingdom, based on their previous residence in the United Kingdom. Applicants will need to evidence their entitlement to apply from outside the United Kingdom with a valid EEA/Swiss passport or national identity card with a biometric chip. Non-EEA/Swiss nationals seeking to apply from outside the United Kingdom must hold a valid UK biometric residence card.
  • Applications from abroad for non-EEA/Swiss citizens. Starting March 30, 2019, non-EEA/Swiss family members can apply overseas for entry clearance to the United Kingdom to join or accompany an EEA/Swiss national who has been granted status under the Scheme. Entry clearance will be granted for six months to facilitate initial entry to the United Kingdom. A further application would be made from within the United Kingdom within this six-month period. In many respects, this mirrors the current EEA family permit that is in place for the same purpose.

 

Impact

All individuals impacted by Brexit will be able to apply to receive confirmation of their status in the United Kingdom. The availability of overseas applications is a welcome development and opens the door for those who are not in the United Kingdom but who seek to confirm their immigration status in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

If employers have concerns that their workers have questions about the new EU Settlement Scheme, Fragomen is here to help with a variety of guidance and advisory options, including webinars, town hall meetings, guides, FAQs, and an informational video. Please contact you Fragomen advisor if you would like more information.

Background

  • Encouragement to remain in United Kingdom. The Minister of State for Immigration stated that the full opening of the EU Settlement Scheme comes after the success of the pilot. The Minister reiterated the UK government’s emphasis on protecting the rights of EU nationals and their hope that the full opening of the Scheme will encourage EU nationals to remain in the United Kingdom permanently.
  • Pilot survey results. Under the pilot, 75% of applicants received decisions within three days (none of which were refused), and of those who provided feedback, 80% reported the online process was “easy or fairly easy” to complete. Application processing times have been very short, sometimes a decision has been received within 24-48 hours.

 

Looking ahead

It is expected that with the full roll out of the Scheme, processing times for settlement applications will increase.

Next week, the UK Parliament will vote again on the Withdrawal Agreement covering the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. If the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected, a vote will be held on whether the United Kingdom could leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. If the UK Parliament rejects leaving the EU without a deal, a further vote would be held on whether to ask EU countries to agree to postpone Brexit Day. Fragomen will report on relevant developments.

Fragomen will issue updates on Brexit as developments occur. For more information, please visit Fragomen’s dedicated Brexit site, which contains news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to londoninfo@fragomen.com.