EU Settlement Scheme Applications

EU Settlement Scheme Application

The EU Settlement Scheme enables qualifying nationals to continue their residence in the United Kingdom (UK), after the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 31 October 2019 (also known as ‘Brexit’) and the transitional period. Since the Scheme was officially opened, we have received a huge number of questions about EU Settlement Scheme applications. So much so, that we decided to put together the key questions and answers in this post.

If you have any further questions that you would like us to answer, drop me a line at [email protected]. And feel free to add your comments about the EU Settlement Scheme application process below, so that we can help others as they begin this part of their journey.

Who can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

Nationals from within the EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who are currently living, working or studying in the UK will need to submit an EU Settlement Scheme application in order to protect their rights so that may continue to live in the UK after the UK leaves the EU.

If you have family members, living in the UK, who are nationals from outside of the EU, EEA and Switzerland, they will also need to apply to the Scheme.

More specifically, you may submit an EU Settlement Scheme application if:

  • You are a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen;
  • You are the family member of a British citizen and you lived in an EEA Member State together, where the British citizens had exercised their Treaty rights;
  • You are the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship;
  • You used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK;
  • You are the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen; or
  • You are the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer;

If the EU Settlement Scheme application is successful, you will be given either pre-settled or settled status.

The Mayor of London has helpfully provided an eligibility checker that may assist you.

What is settled status?

To successfully submit an application for settled status, you must demonstrate to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you:

  • Had started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal); and
  • Have 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.

What does the no-deal scenario refer to?

The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019, extended from 29 March 2019 and 12 April 2019.

Once the UK leaves the EU, and is no longer a Member State, the UK and EU’s relationship will be governed by the Withdrawal Agreement.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement was published on 14 November 2018 and was endorsed on 25 November 2018 by leaders of the European Council. It has yet to be finally agreed.

If, the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified on 31 October 2019, the UK will continue to recognise the rights of EU, EEA, Swiss nationals and their family members until the end of the transitional period at 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020.

However, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will be permitted to submit their EU Settlement Scheme application until 30 June 2021. To clarify, applications must be made on the basis that you were in the UK prior to 31 December 2020.

In light on the ongoing discussions within the UK Parliament and with the EU, it is possible that the UK’s exit from the EU may be extended further. It is also possible that the UK may not leave the EU at all. The situation remains fluid and we will keep you updated of key events.

Should the Withdrawal Agreement fail to reach formal agreement or adhere to certain EU conditions, the UK will leave the EU in what has been called a ‘no-deal’ scenario. A no-deal Brexit will bring forward the UK’s departure from the EU and the transitional period to 31 December 2020 will no longer apply.

Nevertheless, the deadline for applications for pre-settled and settled status will be 31 December 2020, unless otherwise advised by UK Visas and Immigration.

If there is a no-deal exit from the EU, the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 will come into force.

After the UK’s exit, the rights and entitlements of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals living and travelling to the UK will be limited. The EU Settlement Scheme aims to protect the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members, who are already in the UK prior to the UK’s departure from the EU.

What is pre-settled status?

Pre-settled status will be given to EU, EEA or Swiss nationals, and their family members, who have lived in the UK for less than 5 years.

To qualify for pre-settled status, you must have started living in the UK prior to the UK’s departure from the EU in a no-deal scenario (which at the time of writing, is still possible) and meet the ‘suitability’ criteria. This refers to UKVI’s criminality checks.

Alternatively, should the UK leave the EU after having ratified the Withdrawal Agreement, then you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

Who are EU nationals?

The EU countries are: 

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden 
  • UK (for the purposes of this post, we will refer to UK nationals exercising their Treaty rights in another Member State).

Who are EEA nationals?

Nationals from the EEA includes the above EU nationals as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

What does ‘continuous residence’ mean?

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will look at the period of continuous residence to assess the length of time that a person has lived in the UK.

For instance, a person may wish to submit an application for pre-settled status on the basis of 3 years’ continuous residence, with the expectation that they secure settlement status within the next 2 years. Or they may wish to submit an application for settlement status based on 5 years’ continuous residence.

Continuous residence means you must have resided in the UK continually and can include residence in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

This does not mean that a person is not permitted to have left the UK for holiday or business purposes. However, if the person had resided in the UK and relocated to their home country for over 6 months in any 12 months’ period, before deciding to travel and take up employment in the UK, then the chain of continuous residence is likely to have been broken by the relocation abroad.

UKVI have listed certain circumstances where a lengthy absence may be permitted in EU Settlement Scheme applications. They are:

  • One period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting);
  • Compulsory military service of any length;
  • Time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant; and/ or:
  • Time spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces.

However, you should bear in mind that meeting the absences requirements for settled status does not guarantee that you will meet the absence requirements to naturalize as a British citizen.

In addition, UKVI state that you and your family may apply for settled status if you have less than 5 years’ continuous residence. This will apply in certain situations only, such as if you and your family need to relocate to the EU for work purposes. Nevertheless, we wait to see how this will be consistently applied.

Do I have to apply for pre-settled status before applying for settled status?

No. If you are likely to have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years before the deadline of 31 December 2020, then you may apply for settled status at date. In this scenario, you do not need to apply for pre-settled status first.

Over time, we may find that employers, and various institutions (rightly or wrongly) request sight of pre-settled and settled status documents well before 31 December 2020, as they too come to grips with their immigration compliance requirements.

As such, applying for pre-settled status, rather than waiting to accumulate 5 years continues residence prior to the end of December 2020, may become a necessity.

Does settled status expire?

Settled status allows the holder to remain in the UK indefinitely. But, their settled status will lapse if the holder is absent from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021.

If, the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for EU Settlement Scheme applications will be 31 December 2020, unless otherwise advised or published by UKVI.

The primary carer of a British citizen may apply to the Scheme from 1 May 2019.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply to the Scheme as a family member of an EEA national?

You can submit an EU Settlement Scheme application for pre-settled or settled status, if you are related to an EU, EEA or Swiss nationals because you are a:

  • Their spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or in a relationship within them;
  • Their child, grandchild or great-grandchild under 21 years old;
  • Their dependent child over the age of 21;
  • Their dependent parent, grandparent or great-grandparent; or
  • Their dependent relative

You must provide evidence of your relationship to the EU, EEA or Swiss national as part of the application. This may include:

  • A birth certificate;
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate; or
  • A residence card.

As a family member, you may apply to the EU Settlement Scheme prior to the EU, EEA or Swiss national, though you will need to provide documentary evidence of their identity and residence.

Regardless, it can be beneficial and time efficient to apply to submit the EU Settlement Status application at the same time as the EU, EEA or Swiss national. If applying online, it is possible to refer to the UKVI reference for your family member within your own application. This will allow UKVI to link or connect the applications to each other.

Can British citizens apply for pre-settled and settled status?

British citizens are not eligible or required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Do Irish nationals need to submit an EU Settlement Scheme application?

No. Irish citizens do not need to apply for pre-settled or settled status.

Nevertheless, family members of an Irish citizen may apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, if they wish.

Further, if you are an Irish national and you have a child who is neither an Irish national nor a British citizen, they may apply for pre-settled or settled status in their own right.

I have Indefinite Leave to Remain. Do I need to apply to the Scheme?

Nationals with indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Rules are not required to submit an EU Settlement Scheme application.

Nevertheless, UKVI’s guidance states that if you hold indefinite leave and you submit an EU Settlement Scheme application, then providing you meet all of the requirements, UKVI will give you settled status.

What are the benefits of doing so? Well, currently, holders of indefinite leave can travel outside of the UK for up to 2 years at any one time. Any longer and you will lose your indefinite leave status.

If you hold settled status, it may allow you to stay outside of the UK for up to 5 years in one go, without losing your status.

That said, we strongly suggest that you seek immigration advice before taking any significant action that may change your status.

What if I have certified permanent residence status?

If you hold certified permanent residence status, you will still need to protect your rights by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme. This will allow you to continue to exercise your rights of residence in the UK after the UK leaves the EU.

However, the process for applying for settled status will be different from those who do not hold certified status, in that you will not have to evidence continuous residence for a period of 5 years. This is a sensible approach, given that you had already done so when applying to UKVI to have your permanent residence status certified.

Instead, you must submit one of the following:

  • A certificate inside your blue ‘residence documentation’ booklet (or pink for Swiss nationals);
  • A certificate inside of your passport confirming your status;
  • A biometric residence card confirming permanent for non-EU/EEA nationals; or
  • A document which states ‘Document Certifying Permanent Residence’.

The EU Settlement Status application must be submitted before 30 June 2021. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the application must be submitted by 31 December 2020.

It is also possible to instead apply for British citizenship by 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal), if you hold certified permanent residence status.

Can my child apply for pre-settled or settled status?

Your child may apply for pre-settled or settled status. You may also submit an EU Settlement Scheme application on behalf of your child if:

  • Your child is under 21 years of age; and
  • The child is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen; or
  • You or your spouse or civil partner is an EU, EEA or Swiss national, but the child is not.

As part of the application, your child will need to provide evidence of their status or proof of their relationship to the EU, EEA or Swiss national.

Your child will not be required to provide evidence of their continuous residence in the UK, though UKVI may request such proof when considering the application.

In addition, if you are an Irish national and you have a child who is neither an Irish national nor a British citizen, they may apply for pre-settled or settled status in their own right.

What happens if I cannot join my EEA family member in the UK after the UK after Brexit?

If your EU, EEA or Swiss family member is already resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, but you are not, you may still apply to join them in the UK, if:

  • Your family member has either settled or pre-settled status; and
  • Your relationship to the EU, EEA or Swiss national began before 31 December 2020; and
  • You continue to be a close family member, such as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, a dependent child or grandchild, or a dependent parent or grandparent.

However, if the UK leave the EU without a deal, the deadline for you to join your EU, EEA or Swiss family member in the UK will be 29 March 2022. Nevertheless, the situation remains fluid and therefore subject to change.

Can I take up employment in Europe and still live in the UK?

You may apply for settled status if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and had lived in the UK, but has now started working in another EU Member State.

In this situation, you will need to evidence that you:

  • Have lived and worked or been self-employed in the UK for a continuous period of 3 years prior to your departure; and
  • Usually return to your UK once a week.

This applies to employment and self-employment and applications must be submitted from within the UK.

If you are the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen at the time that the EU, EEA or Swiss citizen starts work or self-employment in another EU Member State, you may also be eligible for settled status.

Is there a fee to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

EU Settlement Scheme applications are free. There was an intention, at the announcement of the Scheme, to charge £65 per applicant. And indeed, the fee had been paid by some applicants during the pilot phase.

Thankfully, the fee has since been waived and refunded to applicants, where appropriate.

What happens after I apply to UKVI?

If, after consideration of the EU Settlement Scheme application, UKVI decide to grant you pre-settled or settled stats, UKVI will send you a link to an online service where you may confirm and prove your status.

The link may be given to employers or other institutions to prove your status in the UK.

UKVI will not provide you with a physical Biometric Residence Card (BRP) or document, so it is important that you keep a copy or screenshot of your status for your records.

Conversely, if you are a national from outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and do not already have a BRP to evidence your status, you will be given a document to confirm your pre-settled or settled status.

What happens if my application is unsuccessful?

The decision to refuse pre-settled or settled status applications does not carry a right of appeal, though it is possible to request an administrative review.

UKVI will normally contact you if there is incorrect or missing information prior to making a decision, so it is crucial to provide an email address or phone number where you can be reached.

If the application is refused, you may apply again to the EU Settlement Scheme at any time until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020, in a no-deal scenario.

Conclusion

Submitting an EU Settlement Scheme application will protect the rights of EU, EEA, Swiss nationals and their family members living in the UK. We have received a number of questions about the Scheme, which we have addressed in this in-depth Q&A post.

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

Call to action

If you still have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice or assistance with your application to the EU Settlement Scheme or for an EEA family permit, then feel free to contact us.

Contact us at [email protected] or visit https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/contact-us to arrange a consultation.

Or learn more about from our blogs

Liked this blog?

You might also like:

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/eu-settlement-scheme-guide

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/brexit-deal-or-no-deal

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/eea-family-permit/

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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Need straightforward immigration advice or assistance with an application under the EU Settlement Scheme, EEA family permit or naturalisation?

Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation or to request assistance. You can also learn more about UK immigration from our blogs.

Avoiding EEA Family Permit Refusals

EEA family permit refusals

In Part 1, of our series on EEA applications we looked at the application process, and documents required to apply for an EEA family permitHere, in the second part of our series, we look at EEA family permit refusals, focusing on the top 3 reasons for refusals and how to avoid them.

If you would like support with your EEA family permit application or a review of your draft application before submitting it, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

Background

EEA family permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 but has seen little change from Regulations 2006. The issue of the permits does not fall under UK Immigration Rules.

The purpose of the family permit is to allow overseas nationals, from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), (or non-EEA nationals) to enter the United Kingdom (UK) and join their family member, as long as they are the:

  • Family member of an EEA national, or
  • Extended family member of an EEA national

There is no application fee and the process is not as onerous as compared to, say, applying for a UK spouse visa under the Immigration Rules. So what could possibly go wrong? Let’s explore…

Context

According to the Home Office’s National Immigration Statistics as of the end of 2018,  the number of EEA family permits that were granted from 2015 to 2018 was as follows:

  • 2015 – 30,302
  • 2016 – 33,118
  • 2017 – 27,106
  • 2018 – 36,555

So, 30,302 EEA family permits were issued overseas in 2015. The number of EEA family permits issued rose by almost 10% in 2016 to 33,118. While there was a dip in the number of approvals in 2017, the numbers rose to their highest levels in 2018, a likely reflection of the high number of applications there were received in the run up to the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Extracting details of the number of successful applications and the rate of refusals is difficult and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the body responsible for processing applications, is often unwilling to provide such specific data. Much of the data tends to include other types of applications and categories.

Yet, from direct experience, UKVI was well known for inappropriately refusing EEA family permits and using an inconsistent approach when considering applications.

When presenting cases in the immigration Tribunal on behalf of the Secretary of State, it was, unfortunately, not usual for applicants to successfully lodge an appeal against an adverse decision of an Entry Clearance Officer or in a few instances, to withdraw a UKVI decision because it was poorly argued.

Nowadays, the decision making has improved but the European Commission noted that non-EEA family members are still being denied family permits by UKVI on invalid grounds, or without a justified reason.

In fact, the European Commission stated:

Only in the UK is it possible to state that the number of refusals of entry or residence, as well as expulsions of EU citizens, is steadily on the rise

It went on to say:

National authorities indicate that this is the result of concerted efforts to refuse entry or to expel EU citizens convicted of a criminal offence, as well as EU citizens who do not meet the conditions attached to extended residence rights under Article 7 of the Directive. This indicates the UK’s willingness to publicly demonstrate that it is addressing popular concerns such as criminality and immigration, including the immigration of EU citizens

It’s hard to disagree with this. There are times when, the way in which non-EEA family members visa applications are handled appear to support the Commission’s assertions that barriers are deliberately being placed.

For instance, it is not uncommon for non-EEA family members to be asked to produce excessive levels of documentation  so as to secure their permit and still experience delays of sometimes 12 weeks and beyond.

Similarly, it is difficult to assess the main reasons invoked by UKVI for refusing to grant non-EEA family members entry to the UK. Yet from past UKVI experience, research and information from clients looking for assistance after a refusal, the top 5 reasons for EEA family permits can be seen as follows…

Tops reasons for EEA family permit refusals

3. The applicant does not provide any (or adequate) evidence to support their claim to be the direct family member of an EEA national

Direct family members of EEA nationals are set out in Part 7 of the EEA Regulations as:

  • Spouses or civil partners
  • Direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner under 21
  • Dependent direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner 21 and over
  • Dependent direct relatives in the ascending line, for example parents and grandparents of the EEA national or their spouse / civil partner

The above members are viewed as the core of the EEA national’s family.

When assessing the application, it is important for documentary evidence is provided to UKVI to show the relationship between the non-EEA family member and the EEA national.

The type of documentary evidence needed will depend on the nature of the relationship. As a guide, such documents can include:

  • An original marriage certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • An original civil partnership certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • A divorce certificate or a death certificate where there the EEA national or non-EEA national was previously married
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as one of the parents of the non-EEA child
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as the child of the non-EEA parent

2. The EEA national is not a qualified person because there is no evidence of Treaty rights being exercised

The purpose of the EEA family permit is to join or travel with the EEA national to the UK. To clarify, the EEA national must either:

  • Be in the UK already
  • Plan on travelling with you to the UK within 6 months of the date of your application

If the EEA national has been in the UK for more than 3 months they must either:

  • Be a ‘qualified person’ who is exercising their ‘Treaty’ right by working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient); or
  • Have a permanent right of residence in the UK

Where UKVI is not satisfied of the above, you can expect to receive an EEA family permit refusal with the following wording:

You have failed to provide evidence that your EEA national family member is a qualified person in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. I am, therefore, not satisfied that your EEA national family member is residing in the UK in accordance with the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

To avoid this, it is important to evidence the EEA national’s permanent residence status, by way of an EEA permanent residence status, or show they are exercising their ‘Treaty rights’ by submitting original, stamped or certified documents appropriate to their circumstances – see our previous article for more details.

If the EEA national does not have a permanent residence status, some examples of recommended documents of exercising Treaty rights may include:

  • Employment – an employment contract, payslips or a letter from an employer
  • Self-employed – Service contracts, customer invoices or audited accounts with bank statements
  • Studying – A letter from the UK school, college or university
  • Financially self-sufficient – bank statements

EEA nationals that are financially self-sufficient or studying in the UK must have comprehensive medical insurance to be a ‘qualified person’ and it is recommended that evidence of insurance be submitted to UKVI.

1. The applicant is a party to a marriage of convenience

UKVI defines a marriage of convenience as an ‘abuse of the right to reside’. Unsurprisingly, where UKVI suspect that the marriage or civil partnership between the EEA national and non-EEA national was entered into to circumvent the UK immigration rules, the UKVI will issue a refusal with the following wording:

The definition of ‘spouse’ in the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 does not include a party to a marriage of convenience. I am satisfied that you are party to a marriage of convenience and are therefore not the family member of an EEA national in accordance with Regulation 7 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

One of my previous clients, a US national, was absolutely devastated to receive a letter from UKVI informing her that her recent marriage to a French national was a sham.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Mr Polyakov, a Russian national, married to his German wife, Anna who had sought an EEA family permit to visit his daughter and newly arrived grandson in the UK. Mr Polyakov was surprised to find that the genuineness of his marriage was doubted by UKVI because he had submitted his marriage certificate, but has not provided photographs of his wedding. Mr Polyakov and Mrs Polyakov have been married since 1975!

In the case of our client, she had followed the online guidance and submitted her original marriage certificate.  UKVI’s guidance makes it clear that a valid marriage certificate is sufficient to prove a family relationship. In fact, where UKVI suspects that the marriage is one of inconvenience, the burden of proof falls on UKVI to support their assertion by testing their suspicions.  This is supported by case law.

Yet despite this guidance, UKVI did not ask the client to provide additional information about the relationship. Nor had the client or her spouse been invited to an interview. Unfortunately, the client’s time frame for lodging an appeal had lapsed and so the decision to refuse the application for this reason could not be challenged.

She contacted Thomas Chase Immigration for the first time to assist her with a new application for an EEA family permit.  By now, she had been married for 6 months.

To help the client increase her chances of success in securing an EEA family permit, she was advised to gather as many documents that she had that related to her relationship with her spouse. The purpose of this exercise was to show UKVI that despite the couple’s marriage of 6 months, the couple had been in a genuine relationship for over 2 years.

The following documents were submitted:

  • Records of past communications between the couple such as Skype and WhatsApp messages
  • Travel tickets of holidays taken together
  • Photographs

We provided a covering letter, setting out the client’s circumstances, how she met the requirements, and touched on her previous refusal and how this application differed. We helped the client to make a strong application. Needless to say, the client’s application was approved.

Conclusion

EEA family permits can be refused for a number of reasons, many of which come as a total surprise to the applicant. By being aware of the pitfalls and preparing a strong application, the application process for an EEA family permit will likely go as smoothly as possible.

Have you or someone you know received a recent refusal? What were the reasons given and what advice would you give to others?

Share this blog with someone who might benefit from it.

This post was first published on 31 May 2017 and updated on 1 March 2019.

____________________________________________________________________

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

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

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EU Settlement Scheme Guide

EU settlement scheme guide

The UK Government has provided a EU Settlement Scheme guide for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members. Below, is the Government’s latest position about the Scheme, and a guide on the testing phase and process.

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The Home Office has been testing the EU Settlement Scheme application process through a series of pilots before it launches fully by 30 March 2019. Feedback from applicants on the application process has been positive and the exercise has helpfully identified areas for improvement and clarification. By 14 January 2019, 27,211 decisions had been made and issued as part of the second test phase, with no applications refused. You can read more about how the testing has gone so far on GOV.UK.

A new phase of testing began on 21 January, so we can continue to improve the scheme ahead of the full go-live in March.

The latest testing applies to EU citizens living in the UK who have a valid passport and to their non-EU citizen family members who have a valid biometric residence card. Making an application at this time is entirely voluntary so there is no need to do anything yet.

There are some differences with the current test phase compared to when the scheme is fully launched. In this phase, we are testing the app which checks an individual’s identity document. However, when the scheme is fully live at the end of March, use of the app will be optional and people will be able to send their identity document in the post or get their passport checked in over 50 locations.

The scheme will be fully live by 30 March 2019, and under the draft Withdrawal Agreement applicants will have until 30 June 2021 to apply. You will be able to use any laptop or mobile device to make an application.

On 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced that there will be no fee when the scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019. Anyone who has applied already, or who applies and pays a fee during the test phases, will have their fee refunded. Applicants should make payment using the card they want to be refunded on. Further details of the refunds process will be published shortly.
 

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

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

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Settled Status Scheme

Settled Status Scheme
The UK Government has set out their latest position on the settled status scheme, as it will apply to EEA nationals and their family members.

The statement rehashes much of the information provided by Prime Minister Theresa May on 26 June 2017, about the new ‘settled status’ and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid on 22 June 2018.

The statement reads as follows:


The Home Office has been working to develop a new scheme which allows resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain the UK immigration status they will need in order to remain here permanently.

The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open by 30 March next year. EU citizens and their family members will have until 30 June 2021 to apply, in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Testing is already underway. Since August, EU citizens working for a small number of NHS trusts and universities in the north west of England, and students at those universities, have been able to apply for status under the scheme.

A new phase of testing will begin next month. It will involve many more organisations across the UK, including higher education institutions and organisations in the wider health and social care sector. Testing the system with real applicants helps the Home Office ensure the new system operates effectively when it opens fully.

You do not need to do anything for now. EU citizens eligible to apply in the latest test phase will receive information from their employer.

Further information about the scheme can be found on GOV.UK.

 


What next?

At the risk of being repetitive, it must be stressed that if you are an EEA national, or family member, residing in the UK, nothing has changed. After all, the UK is still a Member State of the EU.

 

It can be beneficial to wait until the new settled status scheme has been fully rolled out and apply for recognition under that scheme.

 

Nevertheless, we are aware of many EEA nationals, and their family members, who have already resided in the UK for a significant amount of time, and who have submitted an application for certification of their permanent residence status in order to better meet the requirements to naturalise as British citizens.

 

Of course, time will be a major factor as applications will need to be submitted soon.

 

The key is to and seek advice and plan the best way forward for you and your family. We can arrange a telephone consultation should you wish to discuss your immediate and longer term options.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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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.

——————————————————————————————————

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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Latest Position on Brexit

Latest position on Brexit
Here, is the latest position on Brexit, as it applies to EEA nationals and their family members, following the Home Office’s latest statement.

Settled Status
On 26 June 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced plans to grant nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA), a new ‘settled status’ following the United Kingdom’s (UK) formal departure from the European Union in March 2019.

The new settled status will replace the current ‘permanent residence’ status and allow EEA nationals and their family members, the right to live, work and study in the UK.

On 22 June 2018, almost one year later, the new Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid, has released the Home Office’s latest position on Brexit, as it relates to the rights of EEA nationals, as follows:

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

As Home Secretary, I take immense pride that so many EU citizens like you have made your home here.

Safeguarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK has always been our first priority and the agreement we reached with the EU earlier this year did just that. The rights that you and your family currently have been protected which include access to healthcare, benefits and pensions.

Away from the negotiations, my team in the Home Office have been working hard to develop the service that you’ll use to get your settled status. This work will continue as we make sure that the system and processes are rigorously tested and meet every requirement ahead of the launch.

Today I am able to announce in more detail what this system will look like.

Most importantly, the application process is designed to be simple. Most people will only need to complete three sections to prove their identity, show that they live here and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions. We will also check employment and benefits records we already hold in government which for many people will mean that their proof of living here is automatic.  We hope therefore most people will not need to do anything beyond typing in personal details.

What’s more, settled status will cost less than the fee for a British passport – £65 and £32.50 for children under 16. For those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for 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.

I should stress that you do not need to do anything just yet. The scheme will open later this year and we are on track to open the scheme fully by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications to the scheme will be 30 June 2021 so there will be plenty of time for you to apply and there are absolutely no quotas for applications.

I hope you will agree with me that this is an important step towards the commitment we made to you and your families so that you can continue your lives here.

Yours sincerely,

Sajid Javid
Home Secretary

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What next?

If you are an EEA national residing in the UK, it must be stressed again, that nothing has changed. The latest position on Brexit refers to the UK governments plans post-Brexit and in any case, the UK is still a Member State of the EU.

Thinking ahead, it may prove beneficial to wait until the introduction of the new settled status and submit, what promises to be, a streamlined application to register and recognise your UK status. EEA nationals will have the option of doing from March 2019 until 30 June 2021.

However, for many EEA nationals, and their family members, who have already resided in the UK for a significant amount of time, it may be advantageous to apply to certify your permanent residence, so as to facilitate an application for British citizenship. Of course, time will be a major factor as applications will need to be submitted before the end of March 2019.

The key is to plan ahead, and seek advice if you are unclear or wish to discuss your, and your family members’, immediate and longer term options.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/brexit-update/

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/eea-family-permit/

 

Brexit Update

Brexit Update
On 23 March, the Home Office issued an update to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals on their status after Brexit on March 2019, when the United Kingdom (UK) formally leaves the European Union (EU).  This follows the Department for Exiting the European Union’s policy paper, which was published on 28 February 2018.

The Home Office maintains that EEA nationals’ rights to reside in the UK will continue to be honoured until 29 March 2019.

From 29 March 2019 until 30 June 2021, EEA nationals and their families, will be allowed to apply for a new status that will allow them to continue to work, study and reside in the UK.

It was announced, that the system for registering for the new settled status will be straightforward and streamlined, and compatible with EU Directive 2004/38 (Article 8).

At the present time, it is still unclear what immigration framework EEA nationals, and their families, will be subjected to post 30 June 2021 and so we await further details.

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

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As Brexit negotiations continue, this is the latest information on the status of EU citizens in the UK and how you are affected.

You may have seen this week that the UK and the EU have now reached an agreement on what happens during the period immediately after Brexit, known as the implementation period. This is important as it will give citizens and businesses on both sides time to adjust before a new relationship with the EU is agreed.

So, what has been agreed so far and how will you be affected?

EU citizens currently in the UK

The agreement on citizens’ rights reached in December has now been formalised into a draft Treaty text, meaning it is in the right form to be written into law.

The agreement means that if you are an EU citizen living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 you will be able to continue to live and work in the UK. Your rights to healthcare, work arrangements and access to benefits will continue. Also, your existing close family members will be able to join you in future in the same way that they can now. You can read more here: Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know.

From this week, EU citizens in the UK have been seeing digital adverts encouraging you to ‘stay informed’. The activity is part of an ongoing effort by the Government to build awareness about the agreement to protect EU citizens’ rights ahead of the roll-out of the settlement scheme. As a member of this mailing list, you will continue to receive the latest information on how you are affected and what action you will need to take in future.

Settlement scheme

If you are an EU citizen or family member already living in the UK, a user-friendly scheme to enable you to secure your settled status here will open later this year. But there is no rush – you will have up until 30 June 2021 to make your application.

We will provide more information on the scheme and how to apply in the coming months. You do not need to do anything further at this point.

Implementation period

The agreement we reached with the EU this week extends the citizens’ rights protections above to include EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK during the implementation period (from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). This ensures that those planning to come to the UK after March next year know what the arrangements will be. During this time, new arrivals will need to register through a new Home Office registration scheme after three months in the UK.

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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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https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/top-10-qa-on-british-citizenship/

 

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EEA PR applications: Assessing your options

EEA PR applications
There is still a lack of clarity about the position of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the United Kingdom (UK) post Brexit and this is having an impact on EEA PR applications.

As highlighted in past blogs (and newsletters to our subscribers), EEA nationals will be expected to ‘upgrade’ their current status to the new ‘settled’ status from March 2019, when the UK formally leaves to the European Union (EU).

While nothing has changed for the time being, many clients are instructing us to assist them with their applications to certify their permanent residence (PR).

But before launching into the applications, it helps to understand our clients’ reasoning and assess whether the legal requirements are met. After all, we want to make sure that our clients’ immediate and long terms needs are fulfilled and that the applications are in their best interests.

For example:

Case study 1: Sarah

Sarah is a French national who has lived and worked in the UK for over 10 years.

She owned her own home, had a stable and well paid job, had not used the National Health Service (NHS), apart from the odd check-up at her local doctor’s surgery) and until recently, felt very settled in the UK.

Sarah wished to apply for British citizenship to give her peace of mind in light of the lack of clear Government assurance for EEA nationals.

During our consultation, it became clear that Sarah had automatically acquired permanent residence (PR) in the UK once she had exercised her Treaty rights and continually resided in the UK for 5 years.

Nonetheless, that status had not been certified by the Home Office, a prerequisite for applications to naturalise as a British citizen.

Sarah was advised to submit an application to the Home Office to request that they certify her PR status. Once Sarah had held certified PR status for 12 months, she was advised to apply to naturalise as a British citizenship.

This was additional time that Sarah had not foreseen. Yet we reduced this timeframe by advising Sarah to gather specific documents, as advised by us, to cover a period of 6 years, rather than the required 5-year period.

By doing so, Sarah’s EEA PR application, similar to other EEA PR applications we have submitted, was recognised by the Home Office for a 6-year period, allowing her to immediately apply for British citizenship, an application that is now being considered by the Home Office.

Case study 2: John-Pierre

JP had lived the UK for 10 years after having travelled to the UK, from France, to study.
Three years ago, and at the end of his degree and postgraduate degree studies, JP became self-employed.

JP wished to apply for PR status also.

We reviewed JP’s immigration history. During his studies, JP never held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) or been issued a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The requirement to hold CSI was not highlighted by the Home Office and when JP once sought treatment on the NHS, it was ever raised as an issue. In fact, JP’s university had not told him about the requirement at the time.

Yet the impact of not having CSI as an EU student in the UK is serious, as JP would find it difficult to demonstrate, to the Home Office, that he was exercising his Treaty rights during his time as a student, as supported by case law.

So what were JP’s options?

JP was advised against submitting an application to certify his PR status at this time.

Could JP instead apply for settlement in the UK on the basis of 10 years continuous and lawful residence in the UK under the UK ? immigration laws?

Well yes and no.

Under the long residence requirements EEA nationals exercising who have exercised Treaty rights in the UK, but not yet certified their permanent residence status, are excluded from the provisions.

Why? Because EEA nationals are not subject to UK immigration rules and therefore cannot rely on those rules for redress.

Nevertheless, JP could submit a discretionary long residence application to the Home Office, outside of the UK immigration rules.

The issue?

JP would need to evidence that he had lawfully and legally exercised his Treaty rights in the UK for the entirety of his time in the UK, a hurdle that would be difficult for JP to overcome as he was not exercising Treaty rights as a student (remember the CSI requirements during his studies?).

Even if that discretionary application were to be approved by the Home Office, it would likely not have been in JP’s interests to make at this time, due to cost factors.

Of most concern to JP, was his wish to sponsor his non-EU girlfriend to join him in the UK, after their wedding early next year (and prior to the UK’s formal exit from the EU). JP did not wish to spend significant amounts of money on an application to the Home Office, unless it was absolutely necessary.

Previously, securing his status under UK immigration laws would have meant that JP would no longer have been recognised as an EU national exercising his Treaty rights in the UK.

Instead, JP would have been treated as a British citizen, and would therefore have been expected to sponsor his wife’s application under harsher and stricter UK immigration rules, rather than EU regulations.

We were pleased to inform JP that any application for British citizenship would not prevent him from exercising his Treaty rights and sponsoring his wife’s application for an EEA family permit due to recent case law.

And, it should be pointed out that UK immigration laws permit British citizens to sponsor their fiancées, a category of persons not strictly recognised as EEA family members.

That said, based on JP’s circumstances and longer term plans, JP was advised to take a wait- and-see approach to his status and arrange for his wife (once married) to apply for an EEA family permit to join him, soon afterwards, in 2018.

Under the Government’s proposals, EU nationals would be granted new settled status once they had completed 5 years’ lawful continuous residence in the UK. More importantly, that status would be granted, according to the Government, whether or not the EU national held CSI as a student (or self-sufficient person) or not.

Of course, the Government’s intentions are not set in stone.

Still, it is an option that would allow JP the opportunity to secure permanence in the UK after March 2019 and to sponsor his wife’s application, once married, under present EU regulations.

Have you experienced any of the above when making an application for PR status? What considerations or issues have you faced?

______________________________________________________________

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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EU Settled Status Latest

Settled Status
On 7 November 2017, the Home Office issued an update to EU nationals on the proposed EU settled status due to come into effect post Brexit. Read on…

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Thomas Chase,

Brexit negotiations latest

Brexit negotiations
On 19 October, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has issued an update, via email, about the Brexit negotiations and their impact on EU nationals.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Thomas Chase,

As I travel to Brussels today, I know that many people will be looking to us – the leaders of the 28 nations in the European Union – to demonstrate we are putting people first.

I have been clear throughout this process that citizens’ rights are my first priority. And I know my fellow leaders have the same objective: to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.

 

I want to give reassurance that this issue remains a priority, that we are united on the key principles, and that the focus over the weeks to come will be delivering an agreement that works for people here in the UK, and people in the EU.

 

When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth. EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.

 

But this agreement will not only provide certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they’ve put in. It will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU and UK to stay together. And it will provide guarantees that the rights of those UK nationals currently living in the EU, and EU citizens currently living in the UK will not diverge over time.

 

What that leaves us with is a small number of important points to finalise.  That is to be expected at this point in negotiations. We are in touching distance of agreement.  I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals for finalising the agreement with an open mind. And with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.

 

I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented. People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.  We will keep the cost as low as possible – no more than the cost of a UK passport.

 

The criteria applied will be simple, transparent and strictly in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement.  People applying will not have to account for every trip they have taken in and out of the UK and will no longer have to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance as they currently have to under EU rules.  And importantly, for any EU citizen who holds Permanent Residence under the old scheme, there will be a simple process put in place to swap their current status for UK settled status.

 

To keep development of the system on track, the Government is also setting up a User Group that will include representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical and legal experts. This group will meet regularly, ensuring the process is transparent and responds properly to users’ needs. And we recognise that British nationals living in the EU27 will be similarly concerned about potential changes to processes after the UK leaves the EU.  We have repeatedly flagged these issues during the negotiations. And we are keen to work closely with EU Member States to ensure their processes are equally streamlined.

 

We want people to stay and we want families to stay together. We hugely value the contributions that EU nationals make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the UK. And I know that Member States value equally UK nationals living in their communities. I hope that these reassurances, alongside those made by both the UK and the European Commission last week, will provide further helpful certainty to the four million people who were understandably anxious about what Brexit would mean for their futures.

 

Yours sincerely

Theresa May, Prime Minister

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/top-10-qa-on-british-citizenship/

 

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Brexit, Settled Status & EU Nationals

Thomas Chase Immigration - Brexit, Settled Status
The UK government has set out its negotiation position with the European Union (EU), on the future status of approximately 3 million EU nationals currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK. The published information provides an outline of the government’s position on a ‘new settled status’, but is very short on detail. Here, we review the latest government proposals and their possible impact for EU nationals and their families.

Settled Status
A new ‘special settled status’ was announced by Prime Minister, Theresa May on 26 June 2017, aimed at granting EU nationals “the right to live in Britain, to undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and to apply for British citizenship.”

The proposals will allow EU nationals to acquire or transfer their permanent status into a special settled status, thereby bringing them within the restrictive UK immigration laws that currently apply to nationals outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Let’s look at the proposals in more detail. As part of the UK government’s wish to ‘safeguard’ the rights of EU nationals in the UK, the government said it will:

  • Comply in full with its legal obligations, including in respect of administrative procedures for providing documentation for those exercising Treaty rights until such time as the UK leaves the UK;

 

  • Create new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens, resident here before the UK’s exit from the EU. Those rights will be enforceable in the UK legal system and will provide legal guarantees for those EU. In addition, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK;

 

  • These rights will apply to all EU citizens equally and the UK government will not treat citizens of one member state differently to those of another qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status. The administrative procedures which they will need to comply with in order to obtain these new rights will be modernised and kept as smooth and simple as possible;

 

  • Bring the application process under a separate legal scheme, in UK law, rather than the current one for certifying the exercise of rights under EU. The UK government intends to tailor the eligibility criteria so that, for example, it will no longer require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held ‘comprehensive sickness insurance’ in order to be considered continuously resident;

 

  • Provide all qualifying EU citizens adequate time to apply for their new residence status after the UK leaves the UK. There will be no ‘cliff-edge’ at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;

 

  • Guarantee that qualifying individuals will be granted settled status in UK law (indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the Immigration Act 1971). This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship;

 

  • Allow EU nationals to qualify for the new settled status as long as they were resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status. They must also still be resident in the UK at that point to qualify;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date, but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK. Once those EU nationals have resided in the UK for 5 years, they will be eligible to apply for settled status;

 

  • Allow EU citizens who arrived after the specified date, to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period. They may become eligible to settle permanently, depending on their circumstances. However, this group should ‘have no expectation of guaranteed settled status’;

 

  • Allow family dependants, who join a qualifying EU citizen in the UK before the UK’s exit from the EU, to apply for settled status after 5 years. The 5 years’ period includes time accrued after Brexit. Those joining after the UK’s exit will be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens or alternatively to the post-exit immigration arrangements for EU citizens who arrive after the specified date;

 

  • Define the ‘specified date’ as no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The specified date will be agreed with the EU as part of delivering a reciprocal deal; and

 

  • Apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK.

It cannot be stressed enough that the above proposals are just that, proposals. The proposals will form part of the UK’s negotiations with the EU and is likely to change or bend as time progresses. Regardless, as they stand, they will have a huge impact on EU nationals’ ability to work, study and unite with family members in the UK.

Summary

The new settled status will apply to EU nationals and their family members who are currently exercising Treaty rights in the UK, but have not yet acquired 5 years’ continuous residence, and will also be applicable to EU nationals that have already applied to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence status.

Applying for the new settled status will be done under a ‘fast- track process’.

Great. Some information has been provided. And yet, so much has been left unsaid.

  • What will the fast track process look like?
  • How does the government intend to fast-track the applications for the large number of EU nationals in the UK?
  • It is not clear if the application process for the new settled status will differ for EU nationals that have already gone through the onerous process of applying to certify their permanent residence status and supplied a great deal of documents, as compared to those that had not certified their permanent residence status at all.
  • How will settled status for EU nationals already in the UK, differ from the settled status for EU nationals arriving after the ‘specified date’?
  • Will EU nationals arriving after the cut-off date see a restricted definition of ‘family members’ as seen under the current UK immigration rules?
  • Will EU nationals that had certified their permanent residence status be expected to complete another form and submit masses of documents again?
  • What is the specified cut-off date?

Another key omission? Fees. How much will EU nationals be expected to pay to apply for the new settled status? For instance, national from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) can expect to pay £2,297 (fees as applied from 6 April 2017 and current as of today’s date). Compare that to an application to certify permanent residence, currently £65.

Will EU nationals be expected to pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds for settled status? We don’t yet know although the UK government proposes that fees will be reasonable.

And will the fast-track system be offered as standard or will a premium fee be attached? We also do not know.

What is clear is that some EU nationals are holding off making an application to certify permanent residence status and instead waiting for details of the new settled status. The merits of doing so will of course depend on each individual and their circumstances.

Settled status, students and the self-sufficient

At present, EU nationals in the UK as students or who are self-sufficient, are required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI). Without CSI, such EU nationals are deemed not to have exercised their Treaty rights in the UK.

The government has proposed that CSI will not be a requirement for EU nationals seeking the new settled status.

Permanent residence and British citizenship

What factors should EU nationals factor into their decision making?

Well, not all EU nationals are eager to apply for British citizenship or meet the requirements for British citizenship. In fact, some nationals are precluded from holding dual nationality by their home country.

For those keen to secure British citizenship, applying to certify permanent residence status, especially for those already exercising their Treaty rights in the UK for 5 years and over, can be beneficial. Why? Because it may be a ‘quicker’ route to naturalising as a British citizen.

When applying for British citizenship, EU nationals have been exercising Treaty rights for 5 years, at which point they will acquire permanent residence. Thereafter, they must apply to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence and hold such recognised status for a further 12 months.

Examples

For example, one of our client’s Eliana, owned and ran her own business in the UK for the past 8 years and successfully applied for British nationality. Eliana first applied to certify her permanent residence status on the basis that she could evidence exercising her Treaty rights as a self-employed person for the past 7 years. Not the easiest of exercises but Eliana only managed to obtain 7 years of the recommended documentary evidence.

We prepared the application and asked the Home Office to not only certify Eliana’s permanent residence status for the past 5 years, but for the past 7 years. This was duly done and allowed Eliana to immediately apply for British citizenship without waiting for a further 12 months.

Equally, another client had her permanent residence status recognised based on her UK activities over the past 5 years. After 12 months’ she may apply for British citizenship, well before the UK formally leaves the EU, assuming the cut-off date is when the UK officially leaves the EU.

This option may be far ‘quicker’ route to British citizenship as compared to applying for settled status, once it is rolled out, and holding that status for an additional 12 months. At the moment, there is nothing to say that the new settled status will be retrospective in law.

Family members

There are good reasons to wait and delay making an application British citizenship. One of which is related to family members. Under EU regulations, EU national exercising Treaty rights in the UK, are entitled to have their direct and indirect family members join them in the UK.  This includes non-EEA family members.

Once the EU national becomes a British citizen, family reunion becomes restricted, onerous and expensive.

An EU national sponsoring a non-EEA spouse to join the in the UK can be as (relatively) straightforward as submitting a EEA family permit application at zero cost.

Doing so as a British citizen means meeting the financial requirements and earning a salary of at least £18,600 per annum, and Home Office fees in the region of £1400 plus an Immigration Health Surcharge of approximately £600.

And applying for an elderly parent to a British citizen in the UK is extremely difficult, with extended family members such as cousins and uncles being almost impossible.

Conclusion

The government has laid out its proposals, for a new settled status, for EU nationals exercising Treaty rights in the UK and for those arriving after the UK formally leaves the EU. Nevertheless, the proposals are extremely light on details, making it difficult for EU nationals to assess the best way forward. That is, whether to apply to certify their permanent residence status, thereafter apply for British citizenship, or simply wait and see how the plans for new settled status materialise.

Much will depend on the circumstances of the individual EU national, and we have listed some of those considerations above. And of course, we must remember that the proposals, at least for now, are just that…published plans to be negotiated with the EU. As such, they are subject to change. So we will watch this space and keep you updated.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

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