Brexit Update: PM's open letter on new 'Settled Status'
As contradictory reports on the progress of Brexit negotiations fly in left, right and centre, the Prime Minister has published a statement for EU Citizens to try and provide some clarity on the process of obtaining ‘Settled Status’ post-Brexit.
As Theresa May set off for Brussels on 19 October 2017 to attend the EU Council, she published a statement for the attention of EU Citizens living in the UK. The full statement can be found here.
The statement must, of course, be taking with a pinch of salt at this time as the Brexit negotiations are far from concluded. However, it does include some specific detail which is worth giving some thought.
For our analysis on the Government’s offer on post-Brexit EU residence rights, please see our earlier article here.
A ‘streamlined digital process’
The Government has made it plain that it intends for all EU Citizens to apply for what is currently being called ‘Settled Status’ once we have left the EU. This status will replace EU Free Movement rights – including previously issued Residence Cards and Permanent Residence Cards. The Prime Minister is promising to provide a simple and user-friendly online application system which will be tested by representatives of EU Citizens as well as technical and legal experts.
We currently have an online application system for applying for EU Permanent Residence, which appears to have been a fairly successful platform so there is hope that the UK Government may be able to deliver on this promise. However, we have doubts as to whether the Home Office will be able to deal with these application expeditiously once they are inundated with 3 million or so applications!
The Prime Minister was direct on the issue of cost. The current fee for EU application is only £65, as controlled by EU law, but it is being stated that the new Settled Status application will cost ‘no more than the cost of a UK passport’ – which at the date of writing is £72.50 (approx. 11% increase).
The cost of a UK passport may increase as a result, but we would hope not to the extent that it would create insurmountable obstacles for EU citizens. Time will tell whether the Government will keep to their word on this one, given the exponential rise in Home Office fees over time.
No more Comprehensive Sickness Insurance requirement
This was mentioned in the Government’s full offer to EU Citizens back in June 2017, but it is worth noting that the Prime Minister has specifically mentioned it again.
EU Citizens applying for residence documentation based on time spent as a student or self-employed person would historically hit a snag when they realised, after the event, that they were required to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance. The logic behind the requirement was to ensure that those who were not economically active (non tax-paying) would not be a burden on the healthcare system. Unfortunately this requirement was not communicated very well and so most EU Citizens were unaware of the rule.
The new system promises to throw out the requirement. It is a welcome relaxation of requirements, and perhaps goes some way to show the UK Government’s commitment to making sure that the Settled Status application process will be as fair and inclusive as possible.
If you have any concerns about how anything raised in this article might affect you, your family or your business, please contact a member of our immigration team on 01522 541 181 or email Louis.firstname.lastname@example.org