Brexit has led to a lot of confusion, especially for the EU nationals currently living in the UK. As the risk of a no-deal Brexit appears almost guaranteed, non-British Europeans that live and work in the country are left to wonder about their status.
Can you stay in the UK after Brexit? The answer depends on several factors, including how long you have lived in the UK. Here is a closer look at what Brexit means for immigration and EU nationals.
Understanding the EU Settlement Scheme
After the British parliament rejected the planned withdrawal agreement, the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK became difficult to understand. Those living in the UK that wish to remain after Brexit need to apply to the EU settlement scheme.
You need to apply before the exit day, which has been reset multiple times. The settlement scheme is open and currently has a deadline of 30 June 2021, assuming the UK government can reach a deal for withdrawal from the EU. If the UK leaves without reaching a deal, the deadline to apply for the scheme is 31 December 2020.
EU nationals need to apply, even if they were born in the UK, but are not British citizens. Those with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK, Irish citizenship, or dual citizenship, may not need to apply.
At the start of 2021, the government plans on introducing a new immigration system. It will likely follow the model currently used in Australia, assigning points to immigrants to determine their eligibility.
Requirements for Those Working in the UK
If you have worked and lived in the UK for at least five years, you need to reapply for permanent status, which is referred to as settled status under the settlement scheme. The application process should not take very long for those that already have existing permanent status.
Those that are currently working in the UK, but have lived in the UK for less than five years are eligible for pre-settled status. After staying in the UK for a total of five years, you may apply to receive permanent status.
When applying to the settlement scheme, you must provide documentation to verify how long you have lived in the UK. Acceptable documents include tax records and utility bills. Immigration solicitors in London can assist with any questions related to the required documents.
Requirements for Those That Recently Arrived in the UK
The withdrawal process provides different conditions for EU nationals that have recently arrived in the UK. If you are seeking employment, you may stay in the UK for up to six months after your arrival.
After the six-month period, you need to have a job or a genuine chance of obtaining employment soon. You may also stay in the UK if you have adequate financial resources to support yourself.
If you have not found a job in the UK and have no financial support, you may not have a legal entitlement to remain in the country. The one exception applies to those with family members that meet the conditions for staying in the country.
If you have a relative that is also an EU national and has employment or financial resources, you may qualify to stay. Spouses and partners of EU citizens with residence cards may also stay, but need to apply through the settlement scheme to receive new residency status.
The deal does not protect anyone that plans to move to the UK after Brexit.
How to Determine Your Immigration Status
For help navigating the confusing new laws, consider working with immigration lawyers in UK. A solicitor can assist with every step of the immigration process, including helping you determine your status.
The EU settlement scheme is controversial, due to the complexity of the process. To apply, you need to submit documents, which can only be completed via an Android phone or by visiting one of the 13 regional processing centres.
The process for applying was originally estimated to take 20 minutes. Many of the EU citizens that already applied through the settlement scheme have reported waiting weeks or months for a decision.
Luckily, the UK has approved almost every application. Out of close to two million applications, only two have been denied.
Keep in mind that these laws are subject to change. The UK government has already revised its Brexit plans multiple times, including shifting the date of the withdrawal from the European Union.
Under the current legislation, you need to live in the UK before the date of withdrawal to receive any type of legal protection for staying in the country.
To learn more about the latest updates to the laws and regulations, contact a local solicitor. Ensure that you apply for your new residency status before the deadline.