In light of the UK’s departure from the EU, EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK will need to apply for a document under the EU Settlement Scheme. To test the application process, the first phase of ‘beta’ testing started in August 2018 for a limited group of applicants. Phase 2 of the EU Settlement Scheme trial, beginning in November, has been significantly expanded to additional groups of people. Carter Thomas associate Nick Gore has taken a look at phase 2.
The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. The UK Government has confirmed that EU citizens and their family members who already live in the UK, or who move to the UK before 31 December 2020, will have until 30 June 2021 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. Applicants will be granted either settled status (otherwise known as Indefinite Leave to Remain), if they have been resident in the UK for five years, or pre-settled status (otherwise known as Limited Leave to Remain) if they have not been resident for five years at the time they make their application.
On 21 June 2018, the Home Office published its ‘EU Settlement Scheme: Statement of intent’ in which it acknowledges the difficulties in processing more than three million applications from EU citizens and their family members. As such, the Home Office’s position is that it is in the process of creating a streamlined and user-friendly system that will utilise existing government data. The requirements that applicants must meet are largely based around continuous residency in the UK.
Phase 1 of the EU Settlement Scheme trial
The Home Office began testing the new system in the first trial phase, rolled out in August to staff at three Liverpool-based Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and 12 NHS trusts. The Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, made a statement to Parliament on 11 October 2018 in which she explained, about the first phase, that ‘the technology performed well, with some minor improvements identified to improve the overall customer experience.’ She also confirmed that applicants’ feedback on the ‘speed and ease of the application process has been very positive’.
The Government is yet to published the results of the first phase, however, there have been reports in the press that only 650 people took part in it. This is expected to increase to 1,000 by the end of the month.
Phase 2 of the EU Settlement Scheme trial
The second phase will run from 1 November 2018 and will cover a much wider group of potential applicants. Information about those applicants who will be able to apply along with details of when they can make their applications can be found here.
In its media blog, the Home Office states that that the second phase will focus on the full online application process, including the systems that will allow applicants to prove their identity and the validity of their ID document remotely. At this stage, an application can only be filed using the Home Office ‘app’ on an android phone. Due to the difficulties this will cause for many applicants, it is expected that accessibility will be expanded to other phones and to computers.
The recent Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1534), summarised here, confirms that applicants will be able to submit identity documents by post if the digital application cannot read the relevant documents, suggesting the Home Office is considering alternatives to the ‘app’.
Phase 2 of the EU Settlement Scheme trial should enable the Home Office to test the process for far more applicants including those with more complicated cases who may not have a complete or a consistent set of government held data.
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