Deadline and Procedure for EEA, Swiss Citizens and Family Members Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme in 2021
We have almost lost count of the number of articles we have penned on the subject of the EU Settlement Scheme, yet it appears that many EU nationals are still unaware of its existence, the deadline, or the penalties for not applying in time. In an article in the Independent, it has been highlighted that one in seven EU workers in the UK is unaware that they need to regularise their immigration status if they want to remain here. This is quite a shocking statistic and one which has the potential to cause a real headache for certain sectors, especially social care and care homes. As the article explains, “The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) warns that the care sector faces being “devastated” at a time when it has already been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic, as a large cohort of its workforce are unaware that they need to apply for settled status”. In this article, we will explain the deadline and application process for the EU Settlement Scheme, for EU and EEA nationals in the UK.
What Is The EU Settlement Scheme?
Simply put, the EU Settlement Scheme enables citizens from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland who live in the UK and arrived before the end of 2020, to remain here. The process is free and has been made as simple as possible for applicants. Once you have been approved, you will be able to remain in the UK, live, work, study, and travel freely in and out of the country (subject to current COVID-19 restrictions), and access the NHS.
There are two statuses which are granted by the Home Office, depending on how long you have been living in the UK. If you have been here for less than five years, you will receive ‘pre-settled status’, meaning that you can stay for another five years to reach the five-year residency threshold. Pre-settled status, therefore, does not confer the permanent right to reside in the UK, but it offers a bridge to get to full ‘settled status’, which will allow you to remain indefinitely. You will be granted settled status if you have already been in the UK for five years.
What Is The 2021 Deadline For The EU Settlement Scheme?
The current ‘grace period’ means that applicants have until 30th June 2021 to apply for EU Settled Status. As long as you apply for EU settled status before this date, you will be able to remain and continue working until your application is processed and your decision received. Failure to do so means that you risk being treated as an overstayer in the UK, as you will no longer have a legal immigration status.
This is why it is so important to make sure your application to the EU Settlement Scheme is submitted by 30th June 2021.
How Do I Apply For The EU Settlement Scheme?
Thankfully, the process of applying for the EU Settlement Scheme is simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, some EU and EEA nationals may still need assistance with their application due to language barriers. Employers can play a key role in ensuring that all of their EU and EEA employees are reviewed to ensure they have applied (assuming they plan to stay in the UK from 1st July 2021), and if not, supported through the process.
To apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, here is what you need to know:
- Your application is made online
- Each person in your family will need to apply separately
- You can link your application to that of your children – this means that they will receive the same status as you
- Before you apply, you need to make sure you have:
- Proof of your identity – i.e. a valid passport or national identity card
- Proof of your residence in the UK – to gain full settled status, you will need to provide some evidence that you have lived in the UK for at least six months in any 12 month period for five years in a row (otherwise, if you have lived here for less time, you will get pre-settled status). You will be asked to provide your national insurance number, which will allow the Home Office to complete an automated check – if this is successful, you will not need to provide evidence of your residency. Otherwise, you will be provided with a list of possible documents you can use to prove your residency – this may include a utility bill, bank statement, or letter of employment.
- During the application process, you can use the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app using an Android phone, or an iPhone 7 or above to upload your documents and photo, or send your documents by post.
Once you have submitted your application to the EU Settlement Scheme, you will then receive a letter explaining the outcome. If approved, you can share your valid immigration status with others (e.g. landlords and employers) using a ‘share code’ from the Home Office’s website.
You can expect to receive a decision on your application within five working days. It may take longer if the Home Office needs more information from you.
If your application is refused, you can apply again up to the end of June 2021. Alternatively, if there has been a mistake made by the Home Office when assessing your case, which led to a refusal, you can apply for an administrative review at a cost of £80.
There are now only a small number of months (at the time writing) until the deadline for applying for the EU Settlement Scheme. Given the benefits and ease of applying, anyone who does apply will truly have lost a valuable opportunity to regularise their position in the UK and avoid being subject to immigration control. And remember, after only one year of holding settled status, you can apply for UK citizenship.