Since June 2016, Brexit has been a topic of uncertainty specifically in relation to immigration law, free movement and trade deals. On 31st January 2020, the UK left the EU, and a transition period was put in place until 31st December 2020.
For this reason, there is a distinction between EU citizens who applied or arrived in the UK before 31st Dec 2020 and those who applied or arrived after this.
Irish citizens will keep their rights to freely enter, live, and work in the UK, so they won’t need to apply for settlement status.
EU, EEA, or Swiss Nationals who arrived in the UK before 31st December 2020
If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss national and you arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021. You must apply to this scheme even if you have previously obtained evidence of permanent residence status. Citizens of the other EEA countries (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals can also apply under the settlement scheme. To meet eligibility requirements, you must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, unless you are joining a close family member who is either already under the EU Settlement Scheme or is eligible and will apply before 30 June 2021.
How to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
This Settlement Scheme is completely free of charge and you can apply online. You can complete the application online here or download the EU Exit app on your mobile phone by following the steps below.
Step 1: Download the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ App: This is an official app made by the UK government that will allow you to go through this process online with your mobile phone.
Step 2: Scan your passport photograph by taking a photograph of it. Make sure the whole photograph page is in the frame.
Step 3: Scan your passport’s chip by holding your mobile phone on top of your closed passport.
Step 4: Scan your face by holding up your mobile phone as though you are taking a picture of yourself. Then, press the scan button and the app will start scanning your face.
Step 5: Take a picture of yourself. The final step is taking a photograph of yourself. Pull a neutral expression and remove everything that could cover your face including glasses.
When you have finished this step, you have submitted your EU Settlement Scheme application. If the application is successful you will be registered as an EU citizen with settled or pre-settled status in the UK. The status you get will depend on the duration that you have been living in the UK once you have submitted the application. Once you have been granted with settled or pre-settled status, you will be able to:
Work in the UK
Use the NHS for free
Enrol in education or study in the UK
Access public funds such as benefits and pensions if you’re eligible for them
Travel in and out of the UK
What is the difference between settled and pre-settled status?
EU nationals residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 are eligible for settled status when they have been resident for five years. This will give them the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely. Those who do not have five years' continuous residence can apply for pre-settled status, giving them the right to remain until they reach the five-year mark, at which point they can apply for settled status.
How does this affect your right to work?
You can start work before you make the application, but you must apply before the deadline of 30 June 2021. If you apply by 30 June 2021 but your application has not been decided, your employer will be able to contact the Home Office to confirm that you have made a valid application, following which you may start working. Be aware that if you don’t apply by the deadline, you risk losing your existing rights in the UK including the right to live, work, rent and access free healthcare.
Until 30 June 2021 you can still prove your right to work by using your passport or national ID card. After 30 June 2021 you will have to use your settlement status to prove your right to work - you can do this using the online Right to Work Service.
EU, EEA, or Swiss Nationals who arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020
If you arrived after 31 December 2020, you have until 30 June 2021 to apply to EU Settlement Scheme. If for any reason you do not apply for this, you will need to apply for a visa under the new UK’s points-based immigration system which grants you the permission to live and work in the UK.
Which visa will I need to apply for?
If you are a European national and want to work in the UK after 30 June 2021, you will have to apply for a visa before coming to the UK.
The Skilled Worker visa can be a suitable solution in these circumstances. To be eligible for the Skilled Worker Route you will need:
A job offer from an employer who is able to sponsor your visa application
The job offer must have the appropriate skill and salary level
You must be able to speak English
Even though the Skilled Worker visa is suitable for people wo want to work in the UK, with a job offer already in their possession, there are many other routes available for obtaining permission to work in the UK. These include an Intra-Company Transfer visa, a family member visa or the Global Talent route.
Get legal advice from immigration experts
At MSD Solicitors, we are experts in immigration matters, and we have supported thousands of satisfied clients to choose the appropriate immigration route. We understand how stressful it might be for individuals who are concerned about Brexit uncertainties. Our dedicated team can assist you in obtaining EU Settlement Status and ensuring that you retain your right to work in the UK even after 30th June 2021. We will provide expert legal advice to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and requirements, based on your unique circumstances.