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The UK’s settlement scheme explained Samar Shams, Head of Immigration at Downs Solicitors explores the details of the proposed settlement scheme


he government is implementing a settlement scheme for


EU nationals and their family members, which will open

EU nationals and their family members who hold documentation

fully from 30 March 2019. The EU settlement scheme provides

of permanent residence or have been resident in the UK for at

for rights for EU nationals and their family members under UK

least 5 years may be eligible for settled status, or indefinite leave

immigration rules; the scheme is distinct from the EU-based

to remain. Those who have not been here for 5 years may be

rights from which they currently benefit.

eligible for pre-settled status, and for settled status once they have accrued 5 years’ residence.


Both pre-settled and settled individuals will be able to work

The settlement scheme is being introduced in phases. It

or study in the UK, use the NHS and access benefits. Settled

opened on 28 August 2018. Until 21 December 2018, EU

individuals may be eligible to apply for British citizenship after

citizens working in the higher education, health and social care

holding settled status for one year. Children born in the UK to

sectors, and their family members are eligible to apply. The pool

settled migrants are British citizens; those born to pre-settled

of eligible applicants will expand again in January 2019, when

migrants are not. Settled status can be lost if an individual is

the next phase of testing will begin. Subject to the outcome of

absent from the UK for 5 years. Pre-settled status can be lost

ongoing negotiations, the UK proposes to extend the settlement

after 2 years’ absence.

scheme to EEA and Swiss citizens. Those to whom the scheme applies are required to make


their applications by 30 June 2021. Requiring an entire category

The application process will be available online and accessible

of legal migrants to register in this way to avoid becoming illegal

via mobile phones. It will consist of the following steps:

is unprecedented in the UK as far as we are aware. Generally,

1. Providing personal details such as name, address,

the settlement scheme applies to EU nationals and their family

passport number and/or national insurance number;

members who are in or come to the UK before 31 December

2. Verification of identity using a passport, ID card, or

2020. Certain family members will be able to register beyond

biometric residence card or biometric residence permit. EU

that date. People will also be allowed to register after the 30

nationals will be able to use an app to scan their passports

June 2021 deadline, where there are reasonable grounds for

with an Android (but not an Apple) phone or tablet.

not respecting the deadline.

Applicants may also be able to attend a service centre to

The government published a statement of intent in June 2018

use the app. Applicants will be required to upload a recent

which confirms that EU nationals and some family members

digital photograph;

arriving before the end of the transition or ‘implementation

3. Proving residence: Applicants can give the Home Office

period’, which runs from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020,

permission to check employment and benefit information

will continue to benefit from the most of the EU regulations

electronically with other government departments to

currently in force: They will have a right to enter and an initial

confirm residence.

right to reside for three months; EU nationals will have the

permission, or whose government-held data is insufficient,

right to work, study, be self-employed or be self-sufficient; EU

scanned copies of residence documents will be required.

nationals’ family members will have the rights to reside and to

Examples of acceptable documentation include bank

work; EU nationals and their family members will have a right of

statements, annual business accounts of a self-employed

permanent residence after 5 years.

person, and council tax bills. The scheme will not seek to

For those who do not wish to give

EU nationals and most of their family members arriving

verify that applicants have been exercising treaty rights

in the UK after the end of the implementation period, i.e.

by working, being self-employed, etc.. Only residence will

from 1 January 2021, will be subject to the new immigration

be verified.

framework about which the government has published very

insurance will not be required for settlement applications.

little to date. The Migration Advisory Committee published its

4. Applicants will also have to declare that they have no

final report on EEA migration on 18 September 2018, making

serious criminal convictions;

recommendations for the immigration framework to be

5. Payment.

implemented from 1 January 2021. 14 - info - november / december 2018

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