posted on 09 December 2019, updated on 09 December 2019
Settled Status grants EU nationals and their family members who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years, known as continuous residence, the right to stay in the UK indefinitely.
Whilst Brexit remains unclear, it is desirable to consider supporting European Union (EU) employees in the UK employed by your organisation.
The EU Settlement Scheme was launched in January 2019.
In October 2019, the government said more than 2 million applications had been made and just over 1.5 million had been processed at that point, with 61% granted settled status.
There are an estimated 3.6 million EU born citizens in the UK. This suggests that many more will be planning to apply, or may be uncertain about the process. This is a potential concern for employers relying on EU workers.
What is Settled Status?
Settled Status grants EU nationals and their family members who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, known as continuous residence, the right to stay in the UK indefinitely.
Pre settled status, also known as limited leave to remain, is granted to applicants who have not lived in the UK for the continuous period of 5 years and gives them a further 5 years to remain in the UK from the date it is awarded.
What are the timescales to apply?
The current application deadline for the scheme is 30 June 2021, but if the UK leaves the EU without a deal it will be earlier.
The Government has said settled status will normally be granted if the applicant can demonstrate continuous residence and began living in the UK by 31 December 2020. Applications to change pre-settled status into settled status can be made when 5 years continuous residence is achieved, says the government and must be made before pre-settled status expires.
Security Minister Brandon Lewis was quoted as saying that EU citizens in the UK would ''be subject to full immigration enforcement, and liable for removal from the country if they missed a no deal deadline as of 31 December 2020.''
Figures suggest more applications are being made that may add to an existing backlog of cases.
What should employers consider doing now?
It is sensible to support EU staff employees with consistent communication to build trust and to show that their employer is concerned to support them.
Anne Morris, Immigration Solicitor and Managing Director of law firm Davidson Morris, has commented that the focus on settled status could cause affected individuals to miss out on the potential opportunity to secure permanent residence and UK nationality. Those who have lived in the UK for more than six years may want to consider this as a more straightforward alternative to remain in the country. Anne Morris has said that “securing settled status seems easier because there are fewer documents to provide and it can be done on line, when in fact once you have been granted settled status you are barred from applying for nationality for a year. For a lot of people that is a huge disaster”.
In conclusion, employers may want to consider supporting EU workers in their employment by providing information.