MILLIONS of EU citizens have applied for “settled status” to remain in Britain after Brexit.
Here’s what it means, how many EU citizens are eligible and who will have the right to stay in the country ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit.
What is ‘settled status’ in the UK?
A “settled status” will grant EU nationals and their families who have spent five years in the UK the same rights as British citizens after Brexit.
This includes equal rights on healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.
From January 21, 2019, EU citizens were able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Any EU citizen currently living in the UK will have until June 30, 2021 to apply in order to be able to stay in the UK if the country leaves with a deal.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal then the deadline is December 31, 2020.
If anyone fails to apply by this date they will be considered as living in the country illegally.
How will a no-deal Brexit affect EU citizens?
The rush for EU nationals to secure the right to stay in the country gathers pace ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit.
In his first House of Commons speech Boris Johnson emphasised that applicants could expect “absolute certainty for the right to live and remain”.
He said: “I repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us.”
The Home Office has also denied claims that the deadline for EU citizens who live in the UK to apply to remain there post-Brexit has changed.
However, many have been granted a “pre-settled” status rather than settled and the guaranteed permanent right to remain.
How is it different from ‘pre-settled’ status?
If someone who is from the EU and lives in the UK, but has not been in the country for five years they can be granted pre-settled status.
It allows them to stay in the UK until they reach that five-year mark, which is required to get accepted for settled status.
Once they reach the five-year mark, they need to apply again to claim for settled status.
How can you apply for ‘settled status’ in the UK?
EU nationals will have to apply through the Home Office for a residency document over a two-year window.
They will have to pay around £65 each and answer three “simple” questions.
It will cost £32.50 for children under 16 and is free for EU nationals who already have residency or indefinite leave to remain.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the government’s “default” position would be to grant, not refuse, settled status.
Applicants will be asked to prove their ID, whether they have criminal convictions and whether they live in the UK.
Their answers will be checked against government databases and they should receive a decision within a fortnight.
People will be able to apply online and over a smartphone app.
Who is exempt from applying to the scheme?
The UK government has said that British citizens, Irish citizens, those born in the UK who have at least one parent with settled status and people entitled to permanent residency in the UK do not have to the scheme.
Citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway do have to apply even though they are not from an EU member state.
How many EU citizens are eligible for ‘settled status’?
An estimated 3.6 million EU citizens resident in the UK could be eligible and must apply for settled status so they can continue living in the country legally once free movement ends with Brexit.
Those living in the UK lawfully for at least five years will be granted “settled status” and can live, work and claim benefits just as they can now.
All EU citizens who move to the UK before the cut-off point will be given “blanket permission” to stay for a period – expected to be up to two years.
Close family members of those with settled status who live in a different country will be able to reunite at any point in the future and will be eligible for settled status after five years.
Family members such as spouses, civil partners, partners of more than two years, and dependent grandchildren, parents and grandchildren.
Children born in the UK to parents from the EU will automatically become British citizens.
Irish citizens will not have their rights affected by Brexit and will always be able to live and work in Britain freely
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What does this mean for British citizens living in Europe?
The arrangements for British citizens living in the EU has not been fully worked out.
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal the UK citizens will still be able to live in the EU if they are considered to be legally living there as of March 29, 2019.
The European Commission has outlined in a memo from December 2018 that the EU is ready to issue residence permits to UK citizens to provide reassurance.
The Government has promised:
- Brits will be able to get free healthcare while living or travelling in Europe under a continuation of the EHIC scheme
- Brit pensioners living in Europe will have their pension payments increased every year just as if they were still in the UK
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