Brexit Deal or No Deal

Brexit no deal

As of today’s date, we do not yet know what Brexit means for the UK. The UK was due to leave the UK on 29 March 2019. and yet here we are. Let that sink in for a moment. A once politically stable country has now become the victims of party politics as its denizens watch on, feeling more and more powerless over a referendum vote that was supposed to make them feel empowered and optimistic.

And yet, the UK is still a fantastic place to live. So what other positives can we take away from this situation for European Union (EU) nationals and their family members living in the UK? And what is the EU Settlement Scheme?

Brexit deal

On 14 November 2018, the UK government reaffirmed, by way of its draft Withdrawal Agreement that EU nationals, and their family members, will continue to have a right of residence in the UK as of 30 March 2019, after the UK leaves the UK.

To add to the uncertainty, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU was extended until 12 April 2019.

To solidify their rights, and confirm the right to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members must apply for continued residence to the new scheme. That is, the EU Settlement Scheme.

Under the EU Settlement Scheme, qualifying individuals will need to apply for pre-settled or settled status during a transitionary period that will end on 31 December 2020, though the deadline for such applications will end on 30 June 2021.

If a person applies for pre-settled status during the transitionary period, they may remain in the UK and apply for settled status after a period of continuous residence of 5 years.

Pre-settled status is important as it will allow EEA nationals and their qualifying family members to:

  • Work in the UK;
  • Access the National Health Service (NHS);
  • Enrol in education or continue studying;
  • Access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them; and
  • Travel in and out of the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May had stated in her Brexit Statement, before the House of Commons, that no fee would be payable for pre-settled and settled status applications. In other words, the proposed fee of £65 have been scrapped.

However, if applications are free, it begs the question, how will the Home Office finance the large numbers of caseworkers needed to process the millions of applications in a timely and costly manner? Already there is concern that applicants can only use Home Office’s App on Android to prove their identity. Apple users will have to be patient or ‘borrow a friend’s phone’ according to the Home Office.

The exercise also seems excessive, as EEA nationals and their family members are having to switch their current residence certificates and certified permanent residence cards to pre-settled and settled status documents. Though, perhaps it is an exercise that will allow the Home Office to collect data and statistical evidence.

‘No deal’

Should the UK leave the EU in a ‘no-deal’ situation, EEA nationals and their family members will, according to the Government, continue to have a right of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme.

EEA nationals and their family members will have until 31 December 2020 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, to protect their status. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policy-paper-on-citizens-rights-in-the-event-of-a-no-deal-brexit.

That said, it is crucial to note that if there is a no-deal Brexit, only those who have been in the UK by 12 April 2019 may apply to the scheme for pre-settled status. This is correct as of today’s date.

In the event of a no deal Brexit, EEA nationals and their family members seeking entry to the UK will be subject to the UK’s stricter immigration laws. They will no longer have a right to enter the UK as per the EU regulations.

Indeed, the Government had said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and as such, the end of freedom of movement:

“EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK will be admitted under UK immigration rules and will require permission (leave to enter or remain). Unlike EU free movement, this will not be a rights-based system so those who do not hold valid immigration permission to be in the UK will be here unlawfully and may be liable to enforcement action”.

The Government went on to say:

The details of the UK’s future skills-based immigration system are set out in a white paper published on 19 December 2018. It will take some time to implement this new system, and for EU citizens already resident in the UK to obtain their status under the EU Settlement Scheme. It is important that we allow sufficient time for granting status to resident EU citizens before we start to implement the new skills-based immigration system because until the resident population have been granted status, it will not be possible for employers, universities, landlords and others to distinguish between pre-exit residents who are eligible to remain in the UK on broadly the same terms as now, and later arrivals”.

Hence, the need for an interim arrangement until 31 December 2020. Though whether the Government and Home Office will be ready to implement the new system and processes by that time remains to be seen.

How will this affect you?

For those EEA nationals, and their family members that are already in the UK, it is highly advisable to apply for pre-settled status or settled status during the transitionary period, and certainly before any published deadlines. This will ensure that their UK rights of residency are protected.

For EEA nationals already in the UK, who are separated from their family members, now may be a good time to consider whether their non-European family members should apply for entry to join them in the UK.

What individuals should avoid doing is panicking! Easier said than done! But leaving the UK for more than six months to assess matters from afar, and then returning after Brexit, could have serious implications for EEA nationals and their families.

Similarly, leaving the UK and applying for entry clearance under a work visa or other category under the UK immigration rules may prove harmful to European nationals who have already invested a great deal to the UK, as it could re-set the individual’s continuous residence clock and status.

Conclusion

Brexit has led to uncertainty. Uncertainty about what Brexit is and what it means for the UK. There are also question marks as to whether there will be an agreed Brexit deal or not. Nevertheless, amongst the haze, some clarity has been provided. EEA nationals and their family members will have a continued right of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme. What individuals must avoid, is doing anything that may negatively impact their long term hopes.

UPDATED 3 April 2019.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

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British passport renewals

UK immigration
British passport holders may renew their passport well before the end date of the passport. The time remaining on the existing passport, of up to 9 months, was merely added to the new passport.

Fair enough – the time left on the existing passport has been paid for after all.

But now, the Home Office and HM Passport Office has now admitted a  change to this policy, so that new passports will be issued without the remaining time being added. Thank you Callum Mason, reporter, and Martin Lewis, founder, of Moneysavingexpert.com for putting this before the mainstream media!

It is no coincidence that the announcement comes at a time of much Home Office Brexit contingency planning and Home Office announcements in the case of a ‘no deal’ departure from the European Union.

Here’s the concern – British passport holders may start holding onto their passports as close to the end date as possible, before submitting an application for a new passport.

Yet, for immigration purposes, many countries will not allow a person to enter or cross the border unless they have 6 months’ validity to run on their passport. Indeed, the United Kingdom, requires non-EEA visitors to present a passport with 6 months’ validity.

Alternatively, British passport holders may wait until the passport has 6 months to run and then submit new passport application, so that in effect, as Martin Lewis put it, ‘passports will now only last nine and a half years’.

Watch this space.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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EU Citizens Brexit Update

EU Citizens Brexit Update
On 19 December 2017, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, issued an update to EU citizens on their status once the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019. So how does the UK Government intend to protect EU citizens, and their families, after Brexit?

In essence, the Home Secretary maintains that EU citizens’ Treaty rights will continue to be honoured until March 2019. Thereafter, EU citizens will be granted a new status that will allow them to continue to work, reside, study in the UK.

For the Home Secretary’s full update, read on…

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I’m proud that so many EU citizens like yourself have built your lives in the UK and made it your home. We value your contribution which is why the Government put safeguarding your rights as the first priority in the Brexit negotiations.

I am absolutely delighted that we have now reached an agreement with the EU that does this. I know that at times you’ve had an anxious wait while the fine details were ironed out, but we wanted to get it right and we have always had you at the forefront of our thoughts.

We have always said that we will continue to recognise the value you bring to our society, and that we will remain an open and diverse country. Hopefully this deal provides reassurance that we will do just that.

The agreement we have reached ensures the rights you and your family currently have remain[ed] broadly the same with access to healthcare, benefits and pensions protected. And your existing close family members living outside the UK retain the right to join you in future. These rights will be cemented in UK law meaning you can live your life as you do now with the security of knowing they won’t change. Irish citizens also have their existing rights, associated with the Common Travel Area arrangements, protected.

Away from the negotiations, my team at the Home Office has been working hard to build the digital system that you’ll use to get your new status. It’s being designed from scratch to be quick and simple to use. There won’t be bureaucratic hurdles – those processing applications will work in your favour.

What’s more, 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. There will be support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer, and we’re working with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.

You do not need to do anything just yet. You will see more detail about the settled status scheme from us in the new year and we expect applications will open during the second half of 2018. In the meantime, please do share this message with your friends and family so that they too can stay up to date through our mailing list.

I hope that the agreement we have reached provides certainty to you and your family ahead of Christmas. EU citizens, like yourself, who have made the UK their home are our family, our neighbours and our colleagues and we want you to stay.

Have a very happy Christmas.

Yours sincerely,

Amber Rudd
Home Secretary

 

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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