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Brexit has understandably been a source of anxiety for many EU nationals and their family members living in the UK – and indeed for those looking to move to the UK.
Following the opening of the EU Settlement Scheme to the general public in March 2019, all EU nationals and their family members will now need to register by a given deadline in order to continue to live in the UK.
Furthermore, Brexit is causing many EU nationals to seek the most secure form of immigration status: British citizenship.
The EU Settlement Scheme
The EU Settlement Scheme is the UK Government’s response to Brexit and is a mandatory system of registration for all EU nationals and their family members.
Those who have been living in the UK for five continuous years prior to the relevant cut-off point are granted Settled Status, which is a form of indefinite leave to remain. Those with fewer than five years’ continuous residence are granted Pre-Settled Status.
There are two important dates which apply to the Scheme: the cut-off point by which new arrivals are eligible for the Scheme and the deadline to register on the Scheme. Confusingly, these dates change depending on whether there is a deal.
If there is a deal then those EU nationals who arrive in the UK up until 31 December 2020 will be eligible for the Scheme. Family members will in many circumstances be able to come after this date, provided that the relationship was formed by the cut-off date of 31 December 2020.
If a deal is agreed, then the deadline to register on the Scheme is 30 June 2021.
Things get tighter in a no-deal scenario with the cut-off date for new arrivals eligible for the Scheme being the date we exit without a deal. Meanwhile the deadline to register on the Scheme is brought forwards to 31 December 2020.
There are three different ways in which you can apply to the Scheme: via an App and then an online form; through a Document Scanner Location and online form; or by completing an online form and then posting it. At Truth Legal we can advise you on the most appropriate application method and then complete the application on your behalf.
Many EU nationals and their family members will want the most secure immigration status of all: British citizenship. You can read more about the requirements of British citizenship here.
If you want to apply for citizenship based on Settled Status then you will need to wait for at least one full year, unless you are married to a British citizen, in which case you can apply for citizenship as soon as you are issued with Settled Status (subject to you meeting all of the other requirements for naturalisation).
However, if you are in a rush to get citizenship then there might be a quicker way. In many cases, and perhaps counterintuitively, applying for a permanent residence document under the ‘old system’ will allow you to apply to naturalise more quickly than if you register under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Unlike with Settled Status which must normally be held for a full year before applying to naturalise, those who are issued with a permanent residence document might be able to apply to naturalise as soon as they are issued with a permanent residence document. However, this would require careful preparation of the permanent residence application to show that the individual acquired a right of permanent residence at least a year prior.
If you are an EU national or family member looking to secure your status in the UK then we can advise you on your options and assist you with any application.
At Truth Legal we have Immigration solicitor Louis MacWilliam who heads up our Immigration Team. With over 11 years’ experience as a dedicated Immigration specialist, Louis is one of the few genuine immigration experts in the area.
Are you an EU national or family member looking to secure your status? Book a consultation with us today.
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