Following the referendum on 23 June 2016 and the UK Government’s subsequent notification under Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union of 29 March 2017, the UK will be leaving the EU.
The precise terms and timing of the UK’s departure from the EU are (at the time of writing) still unknown. However the Home Office have confirmed that, whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, the Settled Status scheme will continue.
The Settled Status scheme opened to the general public on 21 January 2019 under a public testing phase and opened to all applicants on 30 March 2019. The purpose of the scheme is to transition all EEA national currently living in the UK in to the UK’s domestic immigration system. EEA nationals can currently live in the UK due to EU free movement law. This will come to an end as a result of Brexit. As such, all EEA citizens wishing to remain in the UK after Brexit will need to apply for status under the Settled Status scheme.
The deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020 (or 30 June 2021 if the Withdrawal Agreement is concluded). In order to continue living lawfully in the UK an application must be made before this date. Those who have lived in the UK for at least 5 years can apply for settled status. Those who have not yet reached 5 years of residence must apply for pre-settled status and can apply for settled status once they have reached the 5 year threshold.
Settled Status is sufficient to protect a person’s status in the UK after Brexit. It allows a person to live in the UK permanently. However many may wish to take the additional step of becoming a British citizen. For those married to a British citizen, this can be done immediately after Settled Status has been obtained. For those who are not married to a British citizen it is necessary to wait 1 year after being granted Settled Status before a citizenship application can be made. Some may be able to utilise the permanent residence scheme in order to avoid this one year delay; however in the vast majority of cases it will be easier to simply wait. More information on how the settled status and permanent residence schemes interact with the citizenship process can be found on our blog here.
For further information about the Settled Status scheme, see our recent blog post outlining the eligibility criteria and application process.
The scheme applies only to EEA nationals who started living in the UK before Brexit. If there is a no deal Brexit, the cut off date will be the day the UK leaves the EU. If the Withdrawal Agreement is concluded then the cut off date will be 31 December 2020. Information about the rules applicable to EU citizens entering the UK after a no deal Brexit can be found here.
Many will not need a lawyer to apply for settled status. However, just as many people decide to instruct an accountant to avoid the hassle of preparing their tax return, there will be many who wish to employ an immigration solicitor to process their Settled Status application. If seeking assistance with the process it is important to ensure you receive advice from an authorised immigration advisor with knowledge and experience of the underlying law.
The team at McGill & Co have already processed several Settled Status applications on behalf of clients and have a wealth of experience in dealing with matters of EU free movement law, including a reported case which shaped EU free movement law in the UK (see the reported decision in Boodhoo and another (EEA Regs: relevant evidence)  UKUT 00346 (IAC)).
We are also involved, through the Law Society of Scotland’s Immigration & Asylum Committee, in lobbying the UK Government to ensure the Settled Status scheme and the post-Brexit immigration system functions fairly and coherently. In November 2018, at the instigation of one of our solicitors, the Committee wrote to the Home Secretary to highlight that the Settled Status scheme did not cater for certain extended family members who currently have a right to reside in the UK under the EEA Regulations. The Home Office acknowledged this inadvertent omission and implemented the necessary legislative changes before the scheme opened to the public on 21 January 2019.
Specialist Brexit Immigration Solicitors in Glasgow & Edinburgh
To discuss your specific circumstances with one of our experts, contact us today.
Grace and Iain not only made the process as easy as imaginable; calming our worries throughout and giving us a personalised service, but also putting our needs to the forefront and taking the time to truly help. Our family life is indebted to McGill and Co and we truly appreciate their continued effort - Fraser Rose