The right to live in the United Kingdom was suddenly cast into doubt for millions of people due to the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
There are estimated to be over 3 million citizens of other EEA countries living in the UK. The total number may be higher if their family members from outside the EU are taken into account. Many, probably the vast majority, do not have residence documents because under EU law, they do not need them.
Following the outcome of the referendum, we were not only contacted by concerned EU nationals, but UK business owners who were worried about what Brexit would mean for their EU members of staff who provide a valuable contribution to their business.
Businesses want to know what they can do to make sure staff understand their position and status in the UK because they are very confused and worried.
European Union nationals are now able to apply for either settled status (confirmation of their right to permanently reside in the UK after 5 years continuous residence in the UK) or pre-settled status (working towards permanent residence). The EU Settlement Scheme is now fully open and the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021.
As things currently stand, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal you will need to have been living in the UK by 12 April 2019 to be eligible to apply under The EU Settlement Scheme. Any EU national coming to the UK after 12 April 2019 may be subject to a different application process or scheme.
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals will not need to provide evidence of their entire residence in the UK, only for the period that proves their eligibility for settled or pre-settled status.
If they have paid tax through work, their National Insurance number will be used by the Home office to confirm when they have bee resident in the UK.
Your employees may need to give any further evidence to prove their continuous residence, for example:
Applicants will able to submit scans of these documents through the online application form. For those in continuous employment over the five year qualifying period, the application process and supporting documents should be fairly straightforward.
In some instances, EU Nationals may not only have acquired a permanent right of residence but they potentially may be eligible to naturalise as British Citizens.
At this stage as an employer, it is important for you to understand the position as it stands today and provide the support, assistance and information that your employees need particularly, those who are still uncertain about what they should do to best protect their position.
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