Get ready for Brexit – Our Immigration Lawyers advise:
Europeans living in the UK
The UK will leave the European Union on 31 October 2019.
I work as an immigration practitioner and on a personal level, have a lot of European friends. What has amazed me in recent weeks is the lack of knowledge shown by European nationals living in the UK about Brexit and their position in the UK as a migrant. A common conversation that I have had goes something like this:
European: ‘Do I need to do anything about Brexit?’
Me: ‘Are you British?
European: ‘NO I AM *Insert European country*’
Me: ‘Then you need to do something about Brexit – have you heard of settled or pre-settled status?’
European: ‘No – But I’ve been living in the UK for 10 years, I have British children and a British spouse’
Me: ‘you still have to apply, the application process is very straightforward you just need to go to this website https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status and click on ‘Start Now’’.
Awareness of Settled Status remains low amongst potential immigration applicants.
The scary thing about these chance interactions, is that they are often with extremely intelligent people who regularly watch the news and are aware of international developments. The press, and indeed the government, have mentioned the risks of Brexit becoming a new kind of Windrush scandal and from anecdotal evidence of people I’ve spoken to, I believe this could be highly likely. The message that almost every European living in the UK, that doesn’t have a British passport, needs to do something about their immigration status, has not permeated sufficiently to prevent a European Windrush.
So is this you? Are you reading this blog saying out loud ‘But I’ve been here 20 years!’. Well you probably need to do something. If you’ve been in the UK more than five years you’ll be applying for settled status, less than five years and you’re applying for pre-settled status.
Immigration Options moving forward
What do you need to do this then? Start with your passport or your national ID card. Hopefully you have an android phone or a friend has an android phone on which you can download the app: EU Exit: ID document check. You only need to use this once so it does not matter whether it’s on your phone or someone else’s. Alternatively, a document checking app for the iPhone will be available by the end of 2019. Or, as another option, there are many organisations that offer to scan the document for you. If you decide you don’t want any of those options, you’ll have to post your documents to the Home Office (not recommended).
Whilst completing the application you will submit your National Insurance number. This will allow the Home Office to undertake an automated check of you residence in the UK based on tax and benefit records. If the Home Office are able to confirm your residence using this automated check, then nothing further will need to be done and you will be granted your settled status. In many circumstances the automated check of the National Insurance number is not successful. Panic not! The Home Office will then send you instructions on how to upload five documents to demonstrate your residence in the UK. You should then be issued your digital confirmation of your settled status.
In the event you have not been in the UK for 5 years you’ll be applying for pre-settled status. You will still have to upload your identity document, however, residence documents should not be necessary.