Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK after Brexit
19 August 2019
Home Office Media Factsheet: EU citizens and freedom of movement
There have been reports in media and on social media regarding the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK after we leave the European Union.
Some inaccurate reporting has suggested that, once freedom of movement ends after Brexit, EU citizens resident in the UK will be left in “legal limbo”.
However, EU & EEA citizens and their families are welcome to stay and there are no changes to the deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
This scheme covers all EU & Swiss citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October, and EU citizens have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.
Here is a short explainer:
What is happening? Is freedom of movement ending on October 31?
We are leaving the EU on 31 October come what may. This will mean that freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when the UK leaves the EU.
What does this mean? Will EU citizens still be able to come here on holiday?
EU citizens will still be able to come to the UK on holiday and for short trips, but what will change is the arrangements for people coming to the UK for longer periods of time and for work and study. Details of other changes immediately after 31 October and improvements to the previous government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed.
When is the new immigration system going to be in place?
Details of other changes immediately after 31 October and improvements to the previous government’s plans for a new immigration system are being developed and the government will set out its plans shortly.
The Prime Minister has been clear that he wants to introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system. The Home Secretary is commissioning the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine this.
We will take back control of our borders while welcoming the talented and hardworking people that the British economy needs.
Doesn’t this create great uncertainty for EU citizens?
The Prime Minister has made it clear that all EU citizens resident here by 31 October will be welcome to stay and they are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme.
More than one million people have already been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, meaning that their rights are enshrined in law.
This scheme covers all EU citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October.
How do you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme makes it easy for EU citizens and their family members who want to stay in the UK to get the UK immigration status they need.
It’s free and they only need to complete three key steps - prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions.
The easiest way to apply is online. EU citizens have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.
What are you doing to help people apply?
There is a wide range of support available for EU citizens and their families via phone, email and in person. This includes a dedicated Settlement Resolution Centre, over 300 Assisted Digital locations supporting those with limited computer access or skills and a network of 57 organisations, funded by the Home Office, helping vulnerable people such as the homeless, disabled and elderly to apply.
What happens if I am a EU citizen, who already lives in the UK, but is abroad when free movement ends?
In this scenario, EU citizens and their families would still be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme because they live in the UK.
No one eligible for status will be barred from re-entering the UK when free movement ends.
What’s your message to EU citizens who are anxious?
EU citizens are our friends, family and neighbours and we want them to stay.
The EU Settlement Scheme protects the rights of EU citizens and we encourage them to apply. One million people have been granted status under the Scheme already.
It’s important to remember we are looking for reasons to grant not reasons to refuse.
Will EU citizens and their families who are here before 31 October still be able to access benefits and services as they do now after free movement ends? How will they differentiate themselves from people arriving after 31 October if they haven’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme?
We would encourage EU citizens and their families to make an application to the Scheme and there is lots of support available to do so.
However, for those who haven’t applied when free movement ends, they will still have the same entitlements to work, benefits and services and will be able to prove these in the same way as they do now.
We will set out arrangements for EU citizens and their families who arrive after free movement ends soon.
Will lorry drivers entering the UK on or after 1 November have to have their passports checked at Calais?
Yes – as now, all incoming passengers (including freight drivers) need to have their travel documents checked when travelling between UK and France.
Settled Status application: A step by step by a Swiss citizen
A Facebook LIVE broadcast with the Ambassador of Switzerland to the UK, Alexandre Fasel and Joachim Tomaschett, Head of Political and Legal Affairs at the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK.
If you do not hold British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, you must apply for the new Settlement Scheme through the UK Home Office. The application is free.
Where to Apply? UK Home Office Official Page >
Deadline without a deal: December 2020
Deadline with a deal: December 2021
Swiss Embassy Official Brexit FAQs https://www.dfae.admin.ch/countries/united-kingdom/en/home/representations/embassy-in-london/embassy-tasks/political-affairs/brexit-faq.html
Stay up date on announcements and upates from the Swiss Embassy UK on Facebook or Twitter @SwissEmbassyUK.
Swiss citizens (and their family members) wishing to remain in the UK beyond December 2020 have to apply for a new residence status under the EU Settlement Scheme, called settled or pre-settled status.
Acquiring settled or pre-settled status will allow Swiss citizens to continue to live, study and work in the UK, to have access to public funds and services and to go on to apply for British citizenship if they wish to do so. Applications are free of charge.
Swiss citizens married to a British citizen without British Citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain must also apply. However, UK-Swiss dual nationals must not (and cannot) apply. They already have full rights of residence in the UK.
The EU Settlement Scheme is open for Swiss, EU and EEA nationals. You can apply now if you meet the criteria.
The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal? You will need to have been living in the UK by 12 April 2019 to apply. The deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.
Which status you get may depend on when you apply.
Fees: It’s free to apply to the scheme.
If you paid a fee when you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll get a refund.
SWISS CITIZENS’ RIGHTS
A talk with Swiss Ambassador Mr Fasel &
UK OSA delegate Franz Muheim
In preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU Switzerland and the UK reached an agreement on citizens’ rights in December 2018. Every Swiss citizen and their family members looking to remain in the UK beyond December 2020 can apply for the new permanent residence permit, known as settled status.
In response to this important news, we have addressed some questions to the Swiss Ambassador to the UK, Mr Alexandre Fasel and to Mr Franz Muheim, UK delegate to the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) and member of the CSA Executive Committee.
[Article published in the 1/19 Issue of the Swiss Review Regional UK Pages; interview by Gioia Palmieri.]
Ambassador Alexandre Fasel
Swiss Review: Has the Embassy undertaken any additional planning in case of a no-deal scenario?
Ambassador Fasel: We have deliberately ensured that the agreements we have reached with the UK government, including on citizens’ rights, trade and aviation, cover any possible Brexit scenario including no deal. In the event that there is not a deal between the UK and the EU, the agreements will come into force on the day of departure in March. If there is a deal, they will come into force at the end of the transition period.
SR: How do you plan to reach every Swiss citizen living in the UK in order to ensure that they are aware of the option to apply for settled status?
FAS: As well as through these pages, we have a regular newsletter which is emailed to all Swiss citizens registered at the Embassy. Through this, we’ve sent updates at every important stage of the process so far. We also use our social media channels including Twitter and Facebook, and I will take part in a live Q&A on Facebook later this month, so please check our social media channels to find out when this is scheduled or to watch back. Additionally, we regularly update the FAQ document on our website and have staff ready to answer queries by phone and email. If any of the Swiss clubs wish to organise an information event, I or a colleague will be delighted to attend to answer questions in person.
SR: Does the Embassy have any outstanding concerns about Swiss expats' rights in the future?
FAS: In short, no. The agreements are comprehensive and have been concluded at an early stage. We’ve had assurances from the UK Home Office that the Settled Status application process has shown to be straightforward during testing phases and that decisions will be reached quickly. Once the scheme opens we will of course monitor it closely and communicate any concerns or feedback that the Swiss community has expressed to us directly to the Home Office.
SR: Which are the positive aspects of this citizens’ rights agreement that the Swiss community should be aware of?
Franz Muheim: Swiss citizens in the UK will need to know how to safeguard their status in the UK after Brexit. A major concern is the uncertainty about what will actually happen. Will the UK parliament accept the withdrawal agreement with the EU, will there be a disastrous ‘No Deal’ or will there be a people’s vote with remain as an option? The agreement between Switzerland and the UK will define the status of Swiss citizens who are not dual nationals and live in the UK after Brexit. This is excellent news. It will prevent Swiss citizens from being further in limbo about their status. Using its ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy, Swiss Government negotiated a deal which will leave us in a status which is at least as good as that of the 3 million EU citizens.
SR: As a Swiss citizen living in the UK, which are your main concerns regarding the application for settled status?
FM: A key feature of the agreements between Switzerland/ EU and the UK is that Swiss and EU citizens resident in the UK will have to apply for settled status. However the approval will not be automatic and there will be over 3 million people applying. This is a huge task and things will very likely not fully go as planned. I recall that in 2016/2017 the Home Office rejected over 20% of the applications for certified residency by EU applicants which all had lived in the UK for over five years. Even if this failure rate is reduced significantly there will be Swiss citizens for whom the application process could become very painful.
After Brexit we will have an electronic settled status without a residence card or a stamp in our passport. This could disadvantage a Swiss citizen looking for jobs or housing or opening bank accounts, e.g. by employers, landlords or banks simply not bothering to check. It is also very worrisome that the UK Government plans to share our settled status data, including a recent picture, with ‘public and private sector organisations in the UK and overseas.
SR: According to the Government webpage, an application will first undergo an automatic check based on tax and benefit records.
What do you think?
FM: I hope this will be sufficient to grant settled status for professionals, salaried workers or self employed with a regular income. While a pilot project with EU citizens applying seems to confirm this, I am worried that the application process could work less well for unpaid carers of children and elderly, for retired Swiss in the UK and for young Swiss who have left school or university and are trying to find a job. In addition, all of us will need to support the Swiss who will need help with submitting their application via a smart phone.