It is also worth noting that eligible Irish citizens need not make an application under the scheme but can do so if they choose.
What do you get if you apply?
Those who have resided in the UK lawfully for five years are eligible for “settled status” and will be free to live and work in the UK indefinitely. Those who have resided in the UK for fewer than five years by the time they apply will be eligible for “pre-settled status”, which will permit them to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years or, if earlier, until they successfully apply for settled status.
How to apply?
The application can be completed online via the UK government website and is free of charge. Applicants will normally need to prove their identity and their residence in the UK, as follows:
An applicant’s identity can be verified easily with their passport or their Biometric Residence card or permit. They will also need to provide a digital photo of their face and, in some cases, their fingerprints. If an applicant is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, the easiest way to do this is using the government’s ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app. If they are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, they will need to send their supporting documents by post.
To prove an applicant’s residence, they can provide their National Insurance number to allow the Home Office to undertake an automated check based on tax and certain benefits records. If this check is successful, they will not need to provide any documents as proof of residence. However, they may need to provide additional documentary evidence of their residence if there is not enough information available to prove they have been continuously resident in the UK for more than 5 years. Once they have applied, the Home Office will let them know whether they need to provide additional evidence.
If an applicant has any unspent criminal convictions, from the UK or overseas, they will need to declare these. The Home Office will then determine whether these prohibit the applicant from obtaining pre-settled or settled status.
If an applicant is applying to join their EU, EEA or Swiss family member in the UK, they will also need to provide evidence of their relationship. In particular, they will need to demonstrate that they are in a genuine relationship, that the relationship started before 31 December 2020 and it is continuing at the date of the application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
What should employees and employers do next?
With very limited exceptions, applications for status under the EU Settlement Scheme must be submitted by 30 June 2021 and failure to acquire pre-settled or settled status will render the vast majority of eligible people “illegal immigrants” and subject to removal from the UK. This includes those that are currently resident in the UK with an EEA residence card or permanent residence card, which was granted under the old rules. So, if you’re eligible and you’ve not yet made an application, you do need to act quickly.
Employers can also help with this. Those with eligible employees should take active steps over the next few weeks to remind their staff about the looming deadline and encourage those that are eligible to make applications. Employers should also ensure that their HR and onboarding teams are fully trained and up-to-date on all of the rules regarding right to work checks so as to ensure that these are being conducted correctly both before and after the 30 June 2021 deadline.
If you have any follow-up queries regarding the EU Settlement Scheme, please do get in touch.