The UK is set to formally leave the UK European Union at 11pm on 29 March 2019 following the referendum that took place in June 2016. The UK government has announced that European citizens will be able to apply for legal status in the UK from the end of 2018 by way of the EU Settlement Scheme. European citizens who intend on residing in the UK after 31 December 2020 must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme which, if successful, will allow European citizens to acquire settled status.
In summary, European citizens who are residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have done so for 5 years, must apply through the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status. Those citizens who are residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have not reach the 5 year residency requirement, will instead need to apply for pre-settled status. Pre-settled status will allow European citizens to remain in the UK for a further 5 year period following which they can apply for settled status.
Current EU citizens will be able to apply for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme by way of an online application by providing proof of their identity and residence in the UK. All applicants will also be required to settle a fee for each application which is currently £62 for adults and £32.50 for children under the age of 16.
If you are a European citizen and are concerned about your legal status in the UK following Brexit, contact us today and our dedicated team of Immigration solicitors will provide further guidance and clarification.
The above plan for EU citizens following Brexit may cause confusion and may appear to be somewhat of a concern for employers in the UK as it is a new system. UK employers are expected to continue complying with right to work checks which must be undertaken as follows by:
- obtaining the individual’s original document(s) – UKVI has provided guidance consisting of two separate lists, commonly referred to as list A and list B. List A applies to those who can work freely in the UK without any conditions and restrictions attached to their right to work in the UK. List B applies to employees whose leave or legal status has restrictions attached to their right to work. For these employees, right to work checks must be undertaken every 12 months.
- checking the individual’s original documents(s) – all original documents must be thoroughly checked and a record of the date of the check must be made as some checks might need to be done annually depending on the conditions attached to an employee’s leave as some checks may need to be repeated once every 12 months as mentioned previously. Additionally, employers must ensure that photo ID is checked to ensure that it is genuine and not false. If it is properly checked and it later transpires that the photo ID was false, employers could avoid liability if it can be shown that the correct checks were undertaken.
- obtaining a clear copy of the document(s) – employers must hold all copies in a safe and secure facility and continue to store this information for two years following the termination of the individual’s employment.
The Government understand the difficulty that some employers may face with the implementation of the new EU Settlement Scheme and as such, the Government has launched the employer toolkit in the hopes that the information provided in the toolkit will best equip employers in the UK to support their employees who are EU citizens.
It has so far been confirmed that the EU Settlement Scheme will mean the following for employers in the UK:
- Employers have a legal duty to treat all employees equally and not discriminate against EU citizens residing in the UK
- The current right to work checks, briefly mentioned above, will continue to apply until the end of 2020. In addition, employers must remember that there will be no changes to the rights and status of EU citizens currently in the UK until 2021.
- Employers will be not expected to carry the burden of paying for their employees’ settled status application.
- Employers do not have a legal obligation to inform their employees about the EU Settlement Scheme nor are employers required to provide advice. However, if employers do decide to share this information, then they can refer their employees to the relevant pages on the Government’s website.
The toolkit for employers will contain an array of guidance and support as well as a practical communication plan which can be downloaded and utilised before the EU Settlement Scheme opens for applications.
If you require further advice and guidance on what the EU Settlement Scheme will mean for your business in the UK, contact us today for a confidential discussion with one of our expert immigration lawyers about your concerns.