With Brexit on the horizon, many European citizens living in the UK may be wondering about what they need to do in order to remain in the UK. The guidance thus far from the British government has been hardly clear or concise on the matter. The rapid introduction of the Settled Status option and consequent dropping of the application fee is indicative of a government that seems to be struggling to produce a coherent plan. So in this article we are going to try and settle some myths and offer some guidance for those EU citizens who are currently puzzled about what is going to happen next. We will tell you what you need in order to remain in the UK, and even look at the option of taking on British citizenship if that is something that may interest you.
Ok so this is where things might get a little complicated. As the UK currently has no deal in place with the EU after the end of March 2019, all EU citizens will essentially lose their automatic right to stay in the UK. This is the reason for the introduction of the Settled Status. The status allows EU citizens to register themselves in the UK and maintain their rights to come and go as they please - a key tenet of freedom of movement. So do you have to apply for Settled Status? Theoretically yes. In reality, it is likely that there will be an agreement that allows EU citizens to remain in the UK regardless, but it may be beneficial to apply for the status in order to ensure your security in the country for the long-term.
Settled Status gives EU citizens currently residing in the UK the option to register with the government so that they can remain in the UK. This is a government initiative that has been widely criticised due to British citizens living abroad not being required to do the same in order to keep their rights. Originally the scheme came with an application fee, but this has since been dropped due to the poor reception to charging people to remain in the country that they reside in. The scheme is currently in the test phase before being rolled out in full at the end of March which coincides with Britain's exit from the union.
In order to apply during the test phase, you will need an Android phone in order to capture your information on an app. You will also need to pay the fee of £65 that will be refunded once the programme has been fully rolled out. This will allow you to have your status settled early and not have to worry about long delays once the vast number of EU citizens currently residing in the UK begin to use the service. If you have the time and the money, now might be the most prudent time to sort out your status in the UK.
No you will not need a permanent resident document to remain in the UK as an EU citizen after Brexit. There are however some situations in which gaining a permanent resident document may be very beneficial to your cause. For instance, if you want to apply to become a British citizen, as an EU citizen you will need to gain permanent residence in order to do so. Certainly if you plan on remaining in the UK for the long-term, British citizenship may be the ideal vehicle to make this happen. You will need to check with your country of origin, but often you can hold dual nationality. Britain is a country that allows this so you will need to ensure that your country of origin does also. The benefits of dual nationality can be very useful and should certainly be considered if you have the option.
You become entitled to permanent residence in the UK as an EU citizen after 5 years. In certain circumstances this can be reduced. You will need to make an application to gain a permanent residence document and once you have had this status for 1 year, you will then be eligible to apply for British citizenship. You will still need to meet the eligibility criteria, but this should be straightforward due to your time in the country.
Yes you can apply for British citizenship as an EU citizen. You will first need to apply for a permanent residence document by following the steps laid out in the section above. Once you have gained permanent residence, you will need to wait another 12 months before being able to apply for British citizenship. This is the same process that applies to those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after staying in the UK on a visa. This is an ideal way of cementing your future in the UK. Also, depending on the your country of origin, you may also be able to have dual nationality. For many EU citizens, this will mean keeping hold of their EU freedom of movement rights if they want to relocate later on. Britain is a country that allows dual nationality, so it will depend upon your country of origin as to whether you can have dual nationality.
If you need more help cementing your status in the UK as EU citizen then please get in touch. Our immigration solicitors are working around the clock to ensure that those who want to stay in the UK are able to. So call today and take advantage of our knowledge and expertise to maintain your stay in the UK for the long-term.
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