***This report is a personal blog by our Treasurer, Karen Austin, and should not be read as an accurate interpretation of the law. Links to Home Office information are provided at the bottom.***
On a balmy July evening in St Albans, 60 people from across the EU attended an information evening on the status of EU27 nationals based in the UK.
Our speaker was Matthew Davies, Head of Immigration at Wilson Solicitors LLP. He is one of the solicitors contracted by the European Commission Representation in the UK to attend events such as these, to help raise knowledge and awareness among EU citizens of their rights. Matthew was a very good speaker, explaining the key parts of some complex EU and UK law clearly, at a good pace and with not too much jargon. Matthew spoke for around 30 minutes, followed by just over an hour of questions from the floor.
As an introduction, Matthew asked for a show of hands to see which countries people originally called home. It was very interesting to see that we had people from many countries representing each stage of the EU’s expansion.
Matthew confirmed that the information for EU27 nationals also applies to citizens of EEA countries.
Firstly, he explained the current position under EU law regarding permanent residence. For example, an EU citizen can stay in the UK for 3 months, after which they are entitled to stay if they meet one of four criteria:
• They are a worker
• They are self-employed
• They are a student and have taken put comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI)
• They are self-sufficient + CSI
Anyone who can prove that they have met one or more of these criteria for the duration of five years (and their close family members) can apply for permanent residence.
Click on links 4 and 5 below for more information on the current processes to apply for PR, leave to stay and British citizenship, and the identity, residence and other documents required.
These will apply for UK-based EU27 citizens until the end of 2020.
Matthew then explained that new settled status arrangements under UK law will come into force on 31 March 2019 following Brexit. He gave a ‘health warning’ that these arrangements have not been completely finalised, there are still some details to be agreed, and the technology that will be needed to support the new arrangements has not been designed and tested.
EU27 nationals who arrive in the UK by 31.12.2020 will be entitled to apply for settled status (if they’ve been here for at least 5 years) or pre-settled status (if they’ve been in the UK less than 5 years). An on-line process will be introduced for each type of application.
• A successful settled status application will require proof of identity, declaration of any criminal convictions (including speeding offences, though only the most serious convictions punished by 12 months or more in prison will jeopardise an application), proof of residence and National Insurance number. PR can be swapped for settled status; family reunion rights will be preserved.
• A successful pre-settled status application will require proof of residence. You can then stay in the UK for up to a further 5 years and apply for settled status as soon as you’ve been here for at least 5 years.
Click on links 2 and 3 below for more information.
After his presentation,Matthew was able to answer many individuals’ questions. Some points raised were of common interest, such as:
• There is a European passport return office in Luton – they will take a copy of your passport, which means that you do not have to send your passport off for months while your application is being processed.
• The 5 year continuous UK residency requirement for permanent residence allows a person to be away from the UK for up to 6 months in each of the 5 years (and up to 12 months if there is a good reason).
• Once you are a permanent resident you can be outside the UK for up to 5 years without losing your PR status.
We received very positive feedback after the meeting, and will consider organising a repeat session later in the year. Watch this space for details after the summer.
The legal stuff EU27 citizens should read
Links to the useful documents and websites mentioned by Matthew are shown below.
1. Home Office "what you need to know"
2. Home Office summary of the proposed settled status
3. Home Office detailed documents on proposed settled status
4. Home Office - to apply for Permanent Residence now
5. Home Office - to apply for British Citizenship
6. European Commission - helpful information and videos on EU citizen rights