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Brexit – Some clarity for EU Nationals in the UK

08 October 2019

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  • T: 0141 221 8012

With Brexit dominating the national press, our EU national clients have been seeking advice on many areas, in particular their right to remain in the UK after Brexit.

The launch of the EU Settlement Scheme last year provided some clarity surrounding EU citizens’ right to remain in the UK. However, as with all Brexit related topics, the situation is complex and evolving and may vary depending on whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal.

In reality, ahead of the deadline of 31 October 2019, when the UK is due to exit the EU, there is still confusion surrounding what Brexit will mean for EU nationals living and working in the UK.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme is the program in place to deal with the applications of EU citizens who currently live in the UK to allow them to remain here after Brexit.

Any EU citizen currently living in the UK will have to apply to the scheme by 30 June 2021 in order to stay in the country.

Who should apply?

You should apply if you:

  • are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK.
  • were born in the UK but are not a British citizen.
  • have a UK permanent residence document,
  • are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss Citizen who does not need to apply, or
  • are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen with a British citizen family member.

Who should not apply?

You do not need to apply if you have indefinite leave to enter the UK or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

What happens if I am successful?

If your application is successful, you will be given either settled status or pre-settled status.

How do I qualify for settled status?

Settled status will, in most situations, be given to applicants who have lived in the UK by 31 December 2020, or by the date on which the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and who have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period.

Settled status will mean that the applicant can remain in the UK for as long as they like and will be granted the same rights as a British Citizen – save for some civil rights such as voting in general elections etc.

What is Pre-settled Status?

If you do not qualify for settled status, as you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you will be given pre-settled status - provided that you have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 or before any date that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You will then be able to apply for settled status once you have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.

I am an EU citizen who spends 6 months a year in the UK to run my business, will this still be permitted after Brexit?

Post Brexit, freedom of movement will stop – at least this is current government policy. It is likely, therefore, that EU citizens who do not qualify for the EU settlement scheme will be treated under usual immigration laws, and the UK government may impose time limits on residency. It is very unlikely, however, that this will have any effect on a person’s ability, for example, to run a business in the UK, own property or engage in financial transactions – such as borrowing from financial institutions, saving with a bank or building society etc.

However, the individual, provided that they are living in the UK by the relevant deadline, could apply for pre-settled status. This would give the individual the right to use public services and leave the UK for up to 2 years without losing their status, although they would not qualify for settled status until they have 5 years continuous residency in the UK.

Can my partner join me in the UK?

Your partner will be able to join you in the UK before 31 December 2020 but they will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once they arrive in the UK.

Your partner may still be able to join you after 31 December 2020, but this depends on when your relationship started, and if the UK leaves with or without a deal.


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