Brexit for EU Citizens:

The Brexit agreement settled just before end of the transition period, has some additional implications for European Citizens already living in the UK. The UK and the EU have agreed a range of protections for your existing EU treaty rights. You will continue to have a right to live and work in the UK, but it will be helpful if you can show proof that you are entitled to these rights – by applying to have your ‘Settled Status’ registered. The UK government is saying that you will need to apply to be ‘settled’ if you want your rights to be preserved.

Your rights as a European Union Citizen continue in that you are free to travel, work, and live throughout the Union. With ‘Settled Status’ (or ‘Pre-settled status’) in the UK you will be able to leave the UK and return freely, as you have done so before Brexit. You will be still able to use the ‘blue’ EU channels at airports and ports when you travel.

Existing UK law has required people to prove their right to live in the UK when seeking to work, use public services, etc. Previously, EU Citizens had full rights to do all of these without proof of anything other than their EU Citizenship. If you have lived in the UK such that you qualify as ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ then you maintain these rights and will be able to prove that you have these rights by registering that status. The scheme for registration runs until June 30. You usually need to have been living in the UK before 31 December 2020.

Irish Citizens have extra rights under the Common Travel Area arrangements and have no need to apply for settled status.

 How to apply for Settled Status:

You usually have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme online. There are a few situations when you must use a paper form. You don’t need to be in the UK to apply. Before you start, gather everything you need to apply.

If you have problems understanding English, you can get help with your application from local community groups and centres. If you need help finding a centre, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

You must apply on a paper form if you don’t have or can’t get hold of your passport or national identity card.

You must also apply on a paper form if you’re not an EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen and you’re:

  • a family member of a British citizen and you lived with them outside the UK in an EU or EEA country or Switzerland.
  • a family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who’s become a British citizen.
  • a carer for a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.

If you are none of these, you must apply online.

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you need to apply on a paper form.

 Starting the online application:

First, you have to prove your identity using your identity document. Your identity document is your: passport or national identity card if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen; passport, ‘biometric residence card’ or ‘biometric residence permit’ if you’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

Find out which document you should use depending on your circumstances. The easiest way to do this is to scan your identity document. This means that you will not have to send it to the Home Office.

Your document must have a biometric chip to scan it. If it has a chip, it will have the biometric chip symbol on it.

If your identity document doesn’t have a biometric chip, you’ll have to start your application online and send your document to the Home Office.

If you’re applying from outside the UK, you must use the Home Office’s ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app to scan your document on an Android phone or an iPhone 7 or above. You can’t send in your identity document.

Find out more about applying from outside the UK on GOV.UK.

Scanning your identity document

You can scan your identity document: using an Android phone, using an iPhone 7 or above, or at a document scanning centre.

You can use your phone or someone else’s. The phone doesn’t store the details of your identity document.

Use the Home Office’s ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app to scan your document.

After you’ve scanned the document, you’ll be taken to the online application form to continue your application. You can continue on your phone or a computer.

Check if the app will work on your phone. Your phone needs to have ‘near field communication’ (‘NFC’) to read the biometric chip in your identity document.

Find out more about checking if your phone has NFC on GOV.UK.

Phone the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre if you can’t get the app to scan your identity document. They can talk you through how to do it.

EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre

Telephone: 0300 123 7379

From outside the UK: +44 203 080 0100

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pm

You can ask a question about the scheme on GOV.UK – they’ll reply within 5 working days.

Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines.

If you don’t have an Android phone or an iPhone 7 or above and you can’t borrow someone else’s, you have 2 options:

Go to a document scanning centre – you usually have to pay for this service.

Start the application online and fill in the details of your identity document. You have to upload a digital photo of yourself and post your identity document to the Home Office at the end of the application.

Start your application online on GOV.UK.

You can get help from the Home Office’s assisted digital service if you aren’t confident using the internet. The service is provided by We Are Digital.

They can help you over the phone. You might be able to visit someone or they might be able to visit you at home – this will depend on where you live. Find out more about how to get help from We Are Digital on GOV.UK.

We Are Digital

Tel: 0333 344 5675 (Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Saturday from 9.00am to 4.00pm)

Text: 07537 416 944 – text the word VISA

Textphone (using Next Generation Text): 18001 0333 344 5675

Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines.

If you don’t have internet access you can use the internet free of charge at your local library or in Salford Gateway Centre. Salford Gateway centres also have scanning facilities for public use.

 Filling in the online application form

You don’t have to do the online application in one go – you can save your answers and come back later. You have 70 days to fill in your application. If you don’t finish it in that time, it will be withdrawn, and you’ll have to apply again. Your application will not be considered until you’ve finished it.

 Applying as a family

If your child, grandchild, or great-grandchild is under 21 and also applying, they can link their application to yours. They will automatically get the same status as you. Check how to link your applications.

 Applying for settled or pre-settled status

You’ll be asked if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years of more, or less than 5 years. If you choose 5 years or more, you’re applying for settled status. If you choose less than 5 years, you’re applying for pre-settled status.

 Proving how long you’ve lived in the UK.

If you give a National Insurance number, your records will be automatically checked during your application to work out how long you’ve lived in the UK.

You’ll be told the result of the check immediately.

If you don’t give a National Insurance number, you’ll need to upload documents to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK.

If you applied for settled status but you’re given pre-settled status

You might not get the result you were expecting if the automatic check can’t find your record, you have gaps in your National Insurance record – for example if you didn’t work for some time, or the check could say you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years. If this isn’t true, check the screen carefully. Then select the option that says you’ve lived in the UK for more than 5 years.

You’ll then be asked to upload documents to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK. You can do that straight away or you can save your application and return to it later when you’ve found the documents.

Booking a biometric appointment

When you apply for pre-settled or settled status, you’ll be asked for your fingerprints and photo if both of the following apply:

  • you’re from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland
  • you don’t already have a biometric residence card or biometric residence permit.

You’ll be asked to go to one of the following places:

  • a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point
  • a service and support centre
  • a visa application centre – if you’re applying from overseas.

If you need to go to a UKVCAS service point, there are free appointments. If you can’t see a free appointment, check just after 11pm every day. That’s when new appointments are made available 2 weeks in advance.

If you’re having problems finishing your application contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

In Salford that is www.salfordcab.org.uk (where you can email us) or phone us on 0808 27 87 808, 9am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

Tom Togher

January 2021.