EEA Settlement Scheme Update: The Facts and Figures So Far…
Now that we are coming towards the end of ‘public beta phase’, the third instalment of the public service juggernaut, that is the piloting of the EU Settlement Scheme application process, it occurred to me that it was about time we had a roundup of the figures published thus far. We will also focus upon the most recent additions to ‘Appendix EU’, which itself is now firmly entrenched within the UK system – UK HC395: The Immigration Rules, and furthermore reflect on our own experiences, here at The Visa Office, of the system.
The public beta test phase of the scheme began on 21 January 2019 after two previous ‘private beta test phases’ which had very restricted access (the initial private beta test phase was opened on 28 August 2018 and the second private beta phase second phase ran from 1 November to 21 December 2018). This public phase has been open to resident EU citizens with a valid passport, and to their non-EU citizen family members with a valid BRP (biometric residence permit). The other essential requirement is that the applicants have access to an Android device so as to access the identification verification ‘EU: Exit’ app. However, not only is the ability to do this limited to only those who have a device which uses Android as its operating system, it is further limited by the fact that not even all Android devices are compatible either. You will need:
- Android 6.0 or above (i.e. if you have a phone from the end of 2015 or before you will need to get a new one)
- NFC (near field communication) i.e. the ability to make contactless payments with your phone
- at least 135MB of storage space to install the app
- to be connected to 3G/4G or Wi-Fi
If, the above requirements have not dented your resolve, then now it would appear is definitely the time to make an application due to the fact that the Home Office, within their Statement of Changes – claim that by the end of February 2019, they had received more than 150,000 applications under the scheme, of which 135,000 (nearly 90 per cent) had already been concluded. Of these concluded cases, 71 per cent were granted settled status, with the rest granted pre-settled status and none refused. What is more, 75 per cent of these applicants received their decision within three days and 80 per cent of those who provided feedback found the online application process easy, or fairly easy, to complete.
Once the public beta phase has runs its course on the 29th of March 2019, the Home Office intends to proceed with the full opening of the EU Settlement Scheme for resident EU citizens and their family members from 30 March 2019. A list of notable, but far from exhaustive, recent changes are as follows;
- Family Permit: provision for a non-EEA/Swiss citizen, who is the family member of an EEA/Swiss citizen with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme, to apply for an entry clearance i.e. from outside the UK, to join that EEA/Swiss citizen in the UK, or to accompany them here, whether for a short stay or to make an application under the scheme in the UK;
- Based upon previous residence in the UK, EEA and Swiss citizens and certain family members (non-EEA will need a UK issued BRP) will be able to apply under the scheme from outside the UK, so that they can obtain status, without needing to travel here NB Applications made under Appendix EU from outside the UK shall take effect from 9th April 2019.
- Provisions to be made in order to facilitate an Administrative Review of a decision under the scheme to be made outside the UK as well as within the UK.
- The scheme will be open to family members of British citizens who were exercising their free movement rights under EU law before returning to the UK (‘Surinder Singh’cases)and the family members of certain dual British/EU citizens (Lounes cases) i.e. those who have naturalised but wish their European country of origin to be the focus of an application.
- ‘Derivative right’ applications. These will be made on a paper application forms rather than through the online portal, as the applicant will need to provide additional information NB these will not take effect until 1 May 2019.
- Residence in the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man) will be counted as UK residence for the purposes of the scheme, consistent with the wider operation of the Common Travel Area;