EU citizens in the UK still in the dark about cost of ‘settled status’
The UK continues to leave EU citizens in the dark about process, cost & cut-off date of getting ‘settled status’ post-Brexit.
Yesterday, the government published a policy paper outlining its offer on citizens’ rights for EU citizens in the UK and Brits in the EU. It states that EU citizens (as well as EEA and Swiss citizens) would need to apply for ‘settled status’ post-Brexit to be able to remain in the UK. However, they will only be able to do so if they have lived in the UK continuously for five years at the still-to-be-agreed cut-off date.
The EU offer states this ‘cut-off date’ should be the date of when the Withdrawal Agreement takes effect, which is likely to be 29 March 2019. But the UK offer is more vague, saying that it should ‘be no earlier than 29 March 2017, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU’. But the EU is likely to insist the cut-off date is the date of the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ because prior to that, the UK will still be in the EU so EU law applies. The UK’s vagueness about it implies the government wants to use the cut-off date as a ‘bargaining chip’ in negotiations.
EU citizens living in the UK who haven’t accumulated five years in the country will be able to apply for a ‘temporary residence’ status. They will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ once they have lived in the UK continuously for five years – effectively, they will have to apply twice. New immigration procedures will apply for any EU citizens arriving after Brexit.
The new ‘settled status’ seems essentially the same as the ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status (including many of the same rights, which are weaker than EU citizen rights) that non-EU citizens can apply for. Both aren’t permanent and anyone with either status will lose it if they leave the UK for more than two years unless they are able to show they ‘have strong ties’ to the UK. Presumably, EU citizens living in the UK who are only able to apply for a ‘temporary residence’ post-Brexit will also lose their right to apply for ‘settled status’ if they leave the UK for two years.
Those previously given ‘indefinite leave to remain’ can apply for a ‘returning resident visa’ if they have left the UK for more than two years and wish to return to live. However, the government’s paper on citizens’ rights does not expand on what having ‘strong ties’ means in this regard for EU citizens with ‘settled status’.
You can see more on the changes to rights in our previous post.
How much will it cost?
We don’t know yet. The 20-page paper, although more detailed than anything we’ve had on citizens’ rights so far from the government, is still missing essential details such as how much applying for either ‘settled status’ or temporary residence’ will cost.
Under EU law, EU citizens can apply for ‘permanent residency’ in another EU country they are living in. Although it wasn’t mandatory, many EU citizens in the UK applied for it following the referendum vote because of uncertainty over their status. However, the government’s offer seems to suggest this was entirely pointless because, post-Brexit, even those who have ‘permanent residency’ will have to apply for ‘settled status’ or ‘temporary residence’. And the government has only said the application process will be ‘as streamlined and user-friendly as possible for EU citizens and their families lawfully resident in the UK’. Fees will also be set at a ‘reasonable level’.
The cost and application process for EU nationals getting a ‘permanent residence’ permit differs across EU countries. This was highlighted by a tweet from Sky News’ Faisal Islam comparing the UK to Ireland and Germany.
For comparison, under same EU law, application for permanent residence forms:
Ireland: 5 pages, free.
Germany, 2 pages, €8
UK 85 pages, £65 pic.twitter.com/H83qXb5VJd
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) 1 March 2017
And there is a steep difference between current fees in the UK for ‘permanent residency’ and ‘indefinite leave to remain’:
Permanent residency for EU/EEA citizens: £65
Indefinite leave to remain: £2,297
An application for naturalisation for British citizenship costs £1,282. Those with ‘settled status’ will be able to apply for naturalisation if they’ve had at least six years’ residence in the country.
In the EU paper outlining its position on citizens’ rights, it states that EU citizens in the UK and Brits in the EU ‘should be considered legally resident’ and that documents to be issued to reflect this ‘should have a declaratory nature and be issued either free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents’.
It’s likely the EU will see a streamlined and a less costly version of ’permanent residency’ as closer to their position than the ‘indefinite leave to remain’ route. The government’s paper seems to indicate it will be more like that than the current ‘indefinite leave to remain’ process. But, for now, the government continues to leave those three-million-plus affected citizens in the dark about it.