EU citizens will have up to two years to apply for settled status post Brexit

by Ray Clancy on November 8, 2017

Citizens of European Union countries and their families living and working in the UK will have up to two years after the country leaves the EU to obtain settled status, it has been announced.

Ahead of the latest round of Brexit talks later this week the Home Office has issued further details of what the Government wants to happen after Brexit, revealing details of a proposed new digital system that is low cost and less bureaucratic for applicants.

(Lucian Milasan/

‘The new system will minimise the documentary evidence required and EU citizens will not be required to provide fingerprints as part of the application process. Decisions will be based solely on the criteria set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, with no discretion for other reasons for refusal,’ said a Home Office spokesman.

EU citizens will also be given a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the Free Movement Directive, if their application is unsuccessful, it was confirmed.

‘Those applying to stay in the UK after we leave the EU will not have their applications refused on minor technicalities and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion where appropriate,’ he explained.

‘The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for negotiations and she said last month that an agreement is within touching distance,’ the spokesman added.

The details are in a technical document that has been sent to the European Commission as part of the Brexit negotiations. The aim is for the new system will be streamlined, low cost and user friendly, with EU citizens consulted on its design.

The document reveals that the plan is for the post Brexit system for obtaining settled status will be enshrined in UK law and EU citizens will be able to enforce their rights on that basis.

‘We are designing a new system from scratch, with new processes, technology, rules and support for applicants. The process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way,’ the document says.

It suggests that up to three million EU citizens, including their families, could potentially apply for settled status. Under the current plan they can even apply for settled status before the date of leaving.

‘We are also planning to set up a voluntary application process before we leave the EU so that those who wish to do so can get their new status at their earliest convenience. The voluntary scheme will sit alongside any existing EU law rights, until those rights fall away,’ it points out.

It also reveals that applicants who are not yet able to give evidence of the five years’ continuous residence necessary to obtain settled status, but who can show that they were resident before the specified date, will be given temporary status. This will enable them to remain in the UK until they have built up five years’ continuous residence allowing them to apply for settled status.

For those who already hold a valid EEA permanent residence document, there will be a simple process to exchange this for a settled status document, subject to ID verification and submission of a photograph, a security check and confirmation of ongoing residence. The previous residence assessment will not be re-done.

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