UK unveils simplified residency scheme for EU citizens
LONDON — The majority of EU citizens seeking settled status in the U.K. after Brexit will only to have to provide a national insurance number to prove their residence in the country, the British government said Thursday.
Unveiling more detail about the online application process EU citizens must undergo to achieve residence status, the Home Office said it expects that for those with an NI number, it would be able to check tax and benefits records to prove residence, removing the need for most EU citizens to provide documentary evidence like bank statements, or employee or student records.
Those who do not have or do not wish to provide a national insurance number will have to provide documentary evidence, and all applicants will also have to provide proof of identity — a passport or national identity card.
EU citizens and family members who, by December 2020 — the end of the post-Brexit transition period — will have lived in the U.K. for five years continuously will be eligible for “settled status,” enabling indefinite residence in the U.K. and access to all health care, pensions and other benefits.
Those who have not been resident for five years on that date will be able to receive “pre-settled status,” giving them the same access to benefits as they have now, and allowing them to advance to full settled status after five years residence, according to the government.
Applicants will also have to make a declaration of whether they have been guilty of any crimes and their names will be checked against U.K. criminal and security databases.
Applications will be made online, and the system will begin to go public in stages at the end of this summer, with a wider rollout by Christmas and then a full rollout by March 2019, when the U.K. formally leaves the EU. It will be open throughout the transition period and for another six months after, with June 30, 2021 set as the deadline for applying.
There will be a £65 fee for applications, lowered to £32.50 for children under 16.
Those with Android phones will be able to scan their passports via an app, but this is currently not available on Apple iPhones, although a government official said they are speaking to the company about this.
Speaking to a House of Lords committee shortly before the policy was formally announced on Thursday afternoon, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the governments “default” position would be to say yes to applications, adding that it would require “a very good reason why you are not going to get that.”
The Home Office is taking on 1,500 extra staff to process the applications and provide support via helplines. It has been allocated £395 million by the Treasury for Brexit preparedness work this year.