With Brexit deadline day fast approaching and the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming, many EU Nationals are rushing to register under the EU Settlement Scheme to protect their rights in the UK post-Brexit. The scheme has been in full swing since 30th March, however it has not been without its flaws and complications.
As of May 2019, it has been estimated that over 600,000 Europeans and their families have applied for settled or pre-settled status under the settlement scheme. But for all these applicants, the process has not been smooth sailing. The first issue that repeatedly comes up has been confusion as to when EU Nationals must live in the UK by to take advantage of the scheme. Although originally the deadline for moving to the UK was December 2020, a no-deal Brexit will cut short that extended deadline to 31st October 2019, meaning EU citizens must act fast should they wish to migrate to the UK. Those that are not aware of the changing deadlines risk losing any right to come to the UK once it leaves the EU.
Many of those that do apply have been frustrated by an application system which runs far from smoothly. Applicants have faced being locked out of their online accounts for weeks due to technical issues and find the dedicated settlement scheme helplines slow to respond and often unhelpful. There is a risk that these technical issues will prevent those that have lived in the UK for a number of years from securing any legal status come deadline day.
Non-EU family members of EU Nationals may also be suitable to apply for status under the scheme. The status of non-EU family members is dependent on the main applicant. In a recent case, a question has been raised as to the status of a non-EU child when the EU national has subsequently moved abroad whilst they remain in the UK to attend school/ university. As the status of the non-EU family member is dependent on the EU family member, their future in the UK is thrown into uncertainty. It is important that families are correctly advised as to what precautions they can take to ensure that they can protect the rights of their non-EU family members post-Brexit.
Finally, the most common enquiry we have received from concerned applicants is the decision granted by the settlement scheme. Under the scheme an applicant may be granted settled status should they have lived in the UK for a period of 5 years, or pre-settled status if they have not reached the 5 year qualifying period. However settled status is not always automatically bestowed to those who apply and that have long been resident in the UK. It is commonplace for the Home Office to request additional documents to prove residence during the period in question. The level of evidence required is reasonably significant and more is required when compared to UK immigration applications, with a couple bank statements a year not being sufficient evidence to prove one’s residency. It is imperative that the correct evidence must be provided to ensure that those that have long been resident in the UK are correctly granted settled status.
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