Details emerge on future “settled status” for EU nationals in UK

Details starts to emerge on how EU nationals in the UK will be able to get “settled status” certifying their rights in the UK after Brexit. But concerns remain on categories of people that might be excluded.

Speaking at the House of Lords EU justice sub-committee (video), Minister for Immigration Brandon Lewis said that a registration process is being put in place and should be ready in the second half of 2018. The process will involve an online form with 6 to 8 questions, similar to the application for a British passport. The cost will be no more than GBP 72 and the procedure will be free of charge for people who already obtained permanent residence under EU rules. Decisions will be made within two weeks.

The minister said that the default position of the Home Office will be to grant settled status and to reject only fraudulent applications (people claiming they are EU citizens but are not) or people with a record of serious criminal offenses. Those with the application rejected will be able to appeal. More details on the new procedure are expected to be published after Christmas.

Categories at risk

Despite the simplification compared to the current permanent residence system (including the lifting of comprehensive sickness insurance requirement), doubts remain on whether all EU nationals in the UK will qualify for settled status.

Lawyers volunteering with UK CEN (UK Citizenship for European Nationals), a group helping EU citizens apply for permanent residence and citizenship, listed categories that might be excluded:

  • Carers, whose sole activity in the UK was and is caring for a family member and who are in receipt of ‘carer’s allowance and/or other public funds
  • People who exercised treaty rights for less than 5 years before retiring or becoming incapacitated
  • Single parents who have never been economically active or have been for less than 5 years and are in receipt of public funds
  • Spouses of British nationals who rely on public funds to support their families, whose EEA spouses would not fall under the self-sufficient category
  • Disabled people who were never able to work or be self-employed and are in receipt of public funds
  • Victims of domestic violence who are dependent on their spouse
  • People in shelters separated from their EU spouses
  • EU children in care
  • Non-EEA nationals whose residence rights derive from their EEA spouses and subsequently divorce.

Depending on the documentation required, some people may also not be able to meet the burden of proof, according to a report by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. “For example, people working in the cash economy and not declaring their earnings could struggle to show that they were working in the UK for 5 years (especially since they did not know at the time that they would need to do so).”

Further concerns are about the impacts of errors in a context where some three million people have to register. “Even if only a few percent of the estimated 3.8 million EEA citizens and roughly 140,000 non-EEA partners were unable to provide the evidence required, the number affected could run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands,” says the study.

Negotiations continue

Earlier in December, the EU and the UK reached a general agreement on the future rights of EU nationals in the UK and British living elsewhere in the EU. But not everything has been decided. Negotiations will continue in the second phase of Brexit talks, as noted in a Twitter message of the Belgian Embassy in the UK.

The European Commission also published a Q&A with further clarifications on the Brexit deal on citizens’ rights.

British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote an open letter to EU nationals in the UK and another to British citizens in the EU explaining how their rights will be protected. In another letter to EU nationals, Home Secretary Amber Rudd specified their current rights remain “broadly the same.” But these words come too late, reported Reuters. Months of uncertainty and a political rhetoric that has turned people into “bargaining chips” and led to an increase of hate crime in the UK will take more the heal.


Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
Photo courtesy Pixabay.

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