EU nationals have until 30 June 2021 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme – with this date now only 30 days away (as of today - 1 June), time is of the essence for businesses to act.
All EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, who haven’t already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, should do so now. Consequently, this will allow them to continue to work, study, and access free healthcare and benefits in the UK after 30 June 2021.
Apply for EU Settlement Scheme
Applications can be made within the UK or abroad. If a biometric passport or national identity card is held then the simplest way to apply is online using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app – in most cases by scanning the applicant’s passport chip.
Full details on how to apply can be found at the government website.
Which status will be granted?
Those applying will not be asked to choose which status they’re applying for – instead, the status they’ll receive will depend on how long they’ve been living in the UK when they applied.
- Pre-settled status - those who have resided in the UK for less than five years will be entitled to pre-settled status (up to five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK). To remain beyond that, they must apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires. Pre-settled status can be lost if more than two years is spent outside the UK.
- Settled status - those who have resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years, with at least six months of each year spent in the UK, will be entitled to settled status (a right to remain in the UK indefinitely). This will be retained provided they do not remain outside the UK for more than five years at a time.
The key for applicants to get status is to prove how long they have lived in the UK when they apply. This is mostly done through an automated check on a national insurance number, with the government using HMRC and DWP records to establish residence in the UK.
What should employers do to prepare?
Employers are not legally obliged to encourage EU employees to make an application for the EU Settlement Scheme, however, it is wise to keep staff informed about the upcoming deadline and the implications of failing to apply.
Employers do not need to carry out retrospective right to work checks on existing EU employees after the 30 June 2021 deadline. Although the government doesn’t require it, good practice is to ensure all EU staff employed between 1 January and 30 June have permission to work to minimise the risk of employing someone who has not regularised their stay under UK law by 1 July.
What happens if EU nationals do not apply by 30 June?
Those who fail to apply on time will no longer be able to evidence they are lawfully resident in the UK. While late applications can be accepted at the Home Office’s discretion, there is no guarantee such discretion will be exercised. Furthermore, there is no clear guidance on what would be accepted as “reasonable grounds” for missing the deadline. As a result, those who make unsuccessful applications will most likely need to apply under the Immigration Rules.
In conclusion, from 1 July, recruitment of all EU, EEA and Swiss employees will require staff to demonstrate their right to work in the UK - either with the pre-settled or settled status, or with another immigration route, including a visa under the points-based immigration system.
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