In response to the proposed EU Settlement Scheme, I am penning this blog both to recent enquiries which in essence incorporate the repeated concern: “I have just read that after March 2019 that our permanent residence certificates will not be valid any longer!!??” as well as a continuation of my previous blog – the lack of clarity as to exactly how European citizens will regularise their immigration status post-March 2019 remains.
The answer to the initial question is, as is often the case with matters of an immigratory nature, not a simple yes or no but rather both yes and no. The reason for this ambiguity is that firstly yes, those currently in possession of EEA Permanent Residence certificates, issued on a blue cardboard backing, will indeed find that they are no longer valid. However, their validity will not become an issue until after the 30th of June 2021.
The 30th of June 2021 is an important date for the reason that it will mark the end of a transitional period and the “trial settlement (read permanent residency) scheme… open fully by March 2019”, whereby all those Europeans already living in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be given the opportunity to regularise their immigration status NB whereas previously there was no legal obligation for Europeans to apply for an immigration document under the EEA Regulations, there will be under the UK Immigration Rules.
Applying via the EEA settlement scheme for settlement status will be an online process for those who are eligible i.e. have been living in the UK ‘continuously’ – 6 months or more in every year, for 5 years; the fee for this will be £65.00/£32.50 if you are under 16. Applicants who already have an EEA Permanent Residency certificate will be able to swap their existing blue cards free of charge for online status. Those who are granted settled status will not be issued with a material document unless you’re a family member from outside the EU and do not already have a BRP, biometric residence card. If by the 30th of June 2021 you are not eligible as you have not been in the UK for 5 years but were here prior to the 31st December 2020, you will be able to apply for pre-settled status and apply later, post June 2021, for settled status once eligible. For those coming in after December 2020 they will have to apply under a different route which has “yet to be determined” as stated by the Home Office.
Although the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021, you may be able to apply after this date if you’re joining a family member in the UK. You will need to show your relationship to an eligible EU citizen already in the UK and that your relationship existed by 31 December 2020. In addition if you’re eligible to apply, any children you have aged under 21 will also be eligible. From what we know so far, family members are deemed to be spouses, civil partners, dependent children or grandchildren, or dependent parents or grandparents. As of yet there seems to be no provision on this basis for those who are categorised presently as ‘extended family members’ – this includes ‘durable partners’, those whose relationship with an EU citizen has been ongoing for two or more years.
NB whereas presently you may lose your settled status after an absence of two or more years from the UK, under the new scheme you would only do so after a period of more than 5 years.
Furthermore, if you have an application refused, you can reapply if you do so by 30 June 2021; you can also appeal the decision if you apply from 30 March 2019.
Full details of the scheme are still subject to approval by Parliament