Tempered somewhat by the furore over the Windrush scandal and the resulting resignation of the Home Secretary, the fact remains that for those EEA Nationals whose lives are centred within the UK the “anxious wait while the fine details are ironed out” continues.
This observation is in reference to the agreement on EU citizens’ rights announced by the Home Office in December last year. Although there have been assurances and reassurances regarding the fundamental rights of these citizens i.e. those living in the UK before 29th March 2019 will be able to continue to live and work in the UK, the exact procedure that is to be followed, thus facilitating the regularisation of their immigration status under UK law as opposed to under the EEA Regulations, is still far from being set in stone.
As well as those EU citizens who are already in the UK and including those who will arrive here before March 29th 2019, protections it has been stated will also include family members arriving in the UK during the ‘implementation period’ designated to be from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. As far as we know at present this will primarily involve those arriving after March 2019 registering through a new Home Office scheme after three months living in the UK; the essential difference to the current system being that those who arrive and stay longer than three months at present are encouraged to regularise their status, thus easing any issues with employers and travel amongst other things but under their Treaty of Rome rights are perfectly entitled not to do so.
Those EU citizens already in the UK now and on 29th March 2019 have been advised that in order to secure their rights, they will need to go through a simple application process which will confirm their status in the UK for as long as they want to stay. Furthermore, if you already have an immigration document confirming your status as a ‘qualified’ resident or are in possession of a certificate of Permanent Residency then this will involve no more than a straightforward transfer of conditions from one document to another. In terms of cost we have been informed that “it will cost no more than the fee a British person pays for a passport and if you already have valid permanent residence documentation it will be free…” The principle means of achieving this will be through a new digital system that has been “designed from scratch to be quick and simple to use”, as long as you have an android compatible device…
Finalised details as to the procedure of these assured to be simple processes have, as of yet, been notable in their absence, thus continuing the uncertainty of those who still do not know exactly how they will go about creating a more certain future for themselves and their families. Platitudes have issued forth in the usual civil service parlance i.e. “there is no rush”; “We will provide more information…on how to apply in the coming months”; “You do not need to do anything further at this point”, all thinly guised euphemisms for “we still don’t know” and doing little to assuage an anxiety born by those caught up in geopolitics. In addition we have been told that if you are an EU citizen or family member already living in the UK for five years or more, a user-friendly scheme to enable you to secure your settled status here will open later this year. Again however, there is still nothing definite regarding this from the Home Office to counter media rhetoric which deems that a ratified document which contains the essence of exactly how EU citizens will formally regularise their status within the UK, continues to be up until now a largely nebulous entity.