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Immigration Advice for EEA Nationals
In the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to permanently leave the European Union (EU), there has been much speculation regarding the position of EU nationals in the UK.
Our immigration lawyers can advise you on your options following Brexit by advising you on which application is most appropriate and helping you to navigate through the process to ensure a successful outcome.
To speak to a solicitor for immigration advice as an EEA national, get in touch with us by calling 0203 675 7600 , or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the immigration team will get back to you.
Brexit: The Current Situation
There is still a distinct lack of clarity from politicians of the full impact of Brexit on the immigration status of EU nationals living and exercising treaty rights in the UK. This is partially due to the fact that EU nationals still lack clarity in the event of a no-deal Brexit and there is no precedent in UK law for such a manoeuvre.
However, what is clear is that EU nationals will be protected under EU law until the UK is formally removed, and during this time, Britain will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws. The Home Office has confirmed that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK will remain the same until the end of the planned implementation period on 31st December 2020.
How JMW Can Help
The immigration solicitors at JMW will complete all application forms and submit them on your behalf, along with any supporting evidence. We provide a comprehensive document-checking service and can assist with overseas postal or entry clearance applications.
With our offices conveniently located in the heart of central London, we can assist clients based within the UK, as well as those abroad. We will liaise with the Home Office throughout proceedings to ensure a successful outcome.
We understand that immigration matters often cause significant stress and anxiety, and it is our objective to take away those worries from you by managing your case and ensuring proceedings are handled quickly and efficiently.
Securing Your Future in the UK
European nationals living in the UK have become increasingly interested in obtaining a settled status or British citizenship, and, since November 2015, the UK government has implemented measures to tighten immigration laws, making this more difficult to achieve.
EU nationals are no longer able to directly apply for British citizenship, and must be granted settled status/permanent residency first. In light of this, the process of acquiring UK citizenship has already been considerably lengthened and complicated.
The rights for EU nationals will not change overnight, but an inevitable consequence of Brexit will be the further tightening of immigration restrictions and more stringent requirements to be met. EU nationals will need new documentation to evidence their right to remain in the UK, and will not be able to rely on just a passport or identity card. Nevertheless, the rights of free movement for EU nationals will continue until the end of the transition period.
On 4th September 2019, the UK government published a white paper suggesting that EU nationals arriving after the transitional period will either need to apply for a new status called ‘European temporary leave to remain (TLR)’ or obtain status under a new points-based system to avoid being in the UK unlawfully.
An Australian-style points-based system already exists for incoming migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), and it looks likely that this style of system will be implemented for new EU applicants.
What is the EU settled status scheme?
On 30th March 2019, the UK government introduced the EU settled status scheme (alongside the pre-settled scheme) to regulate the status of EU nationals that wish to remain in the UK after the transition period ends. The deadline to apply for registration under this scheme will either be 31st December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, or 31st July 2021 if a deal is secured.
To be eligible to apply for this scheme, EU nationals need to demonstrate that they have been living in the UK before it leaves the EU. The scheme applies to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EEA family members.
Settled status in the UK is normally granted if:
- You started living in the UK by 31st December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal)
- You have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period and have validly exercised EU treaty rights throughout this period
If you have been granted indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK, or hold British or Irish citizenship, you will not need to apply under this scheme.
What is the EU pre-settled scheme?
If you have not continuously resided in the UK for five years before 31st December 2020 (or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal), you may be granted pre-settled status if you started living in the UK before the date above. This means you can apply for settled status once you have completed five years of continuous residence.
What does it mean to be granted a settled or pre-settled status?
Once you have been granted settled or pre-settled status, you will be able to do the following:
- Work in the UK
- Use NHS services
- Enrol in education or continue studying in the UK
- Access public funds, such as benefits and pensions
- Travel in and out of the UK
- Apply for British citizenship after holding EU settled status for a year
If you have settled status, you can spend five years consecutively outside the UK without losing your status. For a pre-settled status, this is reduced to up to two years in a row.
Will family members be affected?
If you are an EU citizen, you will be able to bring close family members to the UK after 31st December 2020 if both of the following apply:
- Your relationship with them began before 31st December 2020
- You are still in the relationship when they apply to join you
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for close family members joining you in the UK is 29th March 2022, but the above conditions still apply.