In June 2018, the Government set out its intentions for the future status of EU nationals and their family members following Brexit. However, many UK employers are struggling to understand the potential effects of its proposal on employees who are EEA nationals or family members of EEA nationals.

The plan is that all EU migrants and their family members are going to apply for “settled status” under a new process, which will enable them to stay indefinitely. The type of status they will be eligible for will depend on the amount of time they have resided in the UK and the date they arrived in the country. To obtain settled status EU citizens will generally need to have lived continuously in the UK for 5 years. Those with less than 5 years’ continuous residence will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point. Those who have already acquired a valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain document will be able to swap these for settled status.

The EU Settlement Scheme is expected to be delivered through a digital application process, available in both an android phone app and a website application process. The app has the significant advantage of allowing the applicant to verify their identity with the passport on the app, rather than posting it into the Home Office for verification.

The Government has entered Beta testing phase for the Settled Status system. Subject to this proving successful, the application process is expected to go through a staggered roll-out between now and March 2019. In March 2019, it should be open to all applicants. This is unlikely to change, even if there is a no-deal Brexit scenario.

It is vital that EU nationals and their family members are made aware of the proposals and the process they will have to undertake. Those who have lived in the UK for a long time may be able to apply for citizenship now, thus avoiding the requirements of the new system. Those who have been here for five years will be able to apply for permanent residence.

HR staff would also benefit from understanding the new system and how this will ultimately affect European staff being relocated to and from the UK.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group (koichiro.nakada@lewissilkin.com) and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (yoko.nakada@lewissilkin.com).
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