Virtually all European nationals (and their family members) will need to apply under the EU settlement scheme to continue living and working in the UK long term. Only those with indefinite leave to remain or who are Irish nationals are exempt from applying. Importantly, those with permanent residence documents must still apply, as well as family members of Irish nationals.
The application is an online process with no application fees. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021, and failure to apply by then may mean the individual will not have the right to live and work in the UK after 30 June 2021. It is also likely to mean that it would be a criminal offence for a business to employ them.
Under the scheme, individuals will be granted either settled status or pre-settled status. Those with five years’ continuous residence in the UK should be eligible for settled status. Continuous residence means that the individual has been present in the UK for at least six months in every 12-month period.
Those with less than five years’ continuous residence should be granted pre-settled status. Pre-settled status is granted for five years and it appears that this cannot be extended. Individuals must be careful to safeguard their ability to apply for settled status after five years in the UK and ensure they do not spend more than six months in any 12-month period outside of the UK.
Employers should consider the impact that regular business travel, overseas secondments or working remotely overseas may have on their staff’s ability to apply for settled status. Businesses should also encourage their employees to apply under the scheme and check that everyone has obtained the relevant status by 1 July 2021.