Brexit - gather evidence of UK residence!
Settled status applications to open 30 March 2019
MORE DETAIL is trickling out on the EU Settlement Scheme, also known as settled status, through which our EU national members will have to apply to stay in the UK post-Brexit. (For an update on our UK national members staying in the EU post-Brexit, see here.)
Prime Minister Theresa May in October appeared to guarantee that EU nationals would be able to stay in the UK whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations, pledging in September, "your rights will be protected, even in the event of no deal". This followed Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab's assurances in August that the UK would "move swiftly" to safeguard the future of EU citizens in a no-deal scenario, adding that it was "inconceivable" that EU nationals would be "turfed out."
Last month we reported a voluntary pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme, for staff and students of universities and NHS trusts in Liverpool and the north-east. Phase 2 of the "private test phase" trial-run of the EU Settlement Scheme application process will run from 1 November until just before Christmas. This pilot will include EU nationals working in higher education, healthcare or social care as well as (within select local authorities) "vulnerable people" - EU citizens under 18 who are local authority children's homes and victims of domestic abuse in Council care. See the government's declaration of who is "eligibl" here.
This pilot is opem only to people with access to a device running the Android system: there's still no mention of Macs or iPhones - as earlier reported in the Freelance, the app for settled status applications still doesn't seem to work on these.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes reported the average the application process in the pilot has taken 15-20 minutes. According to immigration lawyers Birketts, everyone who has been informed of the decision on their application has been accepted, although there's no data out yet on how long applications take to process. There have been some some issues around verifying applicants' email addresses. Home Affairs Select Committee Chair Yvette Cooper has noted of the EU Settlement Scheme that "it still isn't clear when they will have tested the entire process, nor how the system will work at scale."
Opens 30 March, get ready!
For most EU nationals, the "full programme" of EU Settlement Scheme applications will open on 30 March 2019, which observant readers will note is the day after the UK formally leaves the EU. (So not "later this year", as earlier promised.) From then, applicants have until 30 June 2021 to get their settled status application in. Those who have been in the UK for less than five years can apply for "pre-settled status" and upgrade to settled status after they've been here five years.
A new development is that applicants for settled status have an automatic right to an "administrative review" if they're turned down as "ineligible."
The Home Office advice on "evidence of UK residence" for settled status applications is online and please take a look at it now if applies to you.
It says you should just give them your National Insurance (NI) number which will be used for an "automated check of UK tax and some benefits records. You'll see the result straight away."
This check is apparently to establish only whether you've been "continuously resident" in the UK for more than five years. "Continuous residence" seems to mean you've been in the UK for at least six months of the year for five years in a row. You can upload photos and scans of documents, to support your UK residence, although only one document is allowed for each period for which you're evidencing having been in the UK.
Sort out your tax
Now is the time to get your tax returns up to date - there's one due in by the end of January anyway - so best get a move on. If you're an EU national seeking settled status, this might be a good time to bring up to date any backdated NI Class 2 payments you were thinking of paying.
There's a list of the documents the Home Office are looking for. Some count towards six months' worth of proof that you were in the UK - P60s, P45s, annual bank statements or account summaries, Council Tax bills, any confirmation of enrolment or paying fees or student loans at a university or college, mortgage statements, rental agreements, evidence of rent payments, pension contribution records, annual business accounts (there should be something like this with your self-employed tax return), employer contracts or letters confirming employment - the latter should have their Companies House number.
As you can see from the list, it's not very friendly to the self-employed! There's no mention of your self assessment tax return, for example.
There's a second list of other documents that from an evidential point of view cover only the month in which they were issued. These include the paperwork the self-employed are actually likely to have - bank statements and Council Tax bills, as well as "invoices for work you have done." As advised by an immigration lawyer at an LFB meeting back in the summer, start sorting out the "chronology" of your life in the UK now.
The UK Government in June appeared to confirm that Irish nationals in the UK will not need to apply for settled status. The Ireland Act 1949, which sepcifies the Common Travel Area allowing Irish nationals to travel, settle and work freely in the UK, will still apply. The UK "intends" to apply the Settlement Scheme to nationals of the EEA - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - and to Swiss nationals as well.
- This article was updated on 04/11/18 to correct a typo in the caption.