Immigration & Brexit
EU Settlement Scheme
On 31 January 2020, the UK ceased to be a member of the European Union as a result of ‘Brexit’. All EU or Swiss nationals and their family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you’ll either settled or pre-settled status. The deadline to apply to apply is 30 June 2021 and the status you get will depend on when you apply.
We understand that this is a worrying time for EU nationals and their family members, either currently residing in the UK or who wish to do so in future. We are already advising EU Nationals on how they might be affected by Brexit. This includes what steps to take in light of the new EU Settlement Scheme including obtaining pre-settled status, leave to remain applications or how to apply to become naturalised as a British citizen before the) June 2021 deadline.
As deadlines are confirmed regarding the Government’s new EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), we are able to help and advise you to ensure you apply for the right scheme before the deadline. If your situation is complex, we will provide you with legal advice in a cost-effective way.
Here is a quick summary of the pre- and post-Brexit-related immigration issues which you might find helpful.
When the UK was a member of the EU, citizens of the EU and their qualifying family members were allowed ‘free movement’. This meant they were lawfully entitled to live in any EU member state, including the UK, for more than three months providing they were exercising ‘Treaty Rights’.
In brief, exercising Treaty Rights meant that they must be:
An EU citizen who had completed a period of at least five years in the UK exercising Treaty Rights would automatically become a permanent resident of the UK, as would qualifying members of their family. EU citizens who had a document certifying permanent residence could apply to become naturalised as a British citizen once they had held that status for a period of a year.
The EU Settlement Scheme – for EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020
The UK Government is currently operating an EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens and their family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and grandparents).
The EU Settlement Scheme enables EU citizens and their family members who have lived in the UK for at least five years by the time the application is made, to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also referred to as settled status, under UK law. When a person who has obtained ILR under the EU Settlement Scheme has held that status for a year, they can apply to become naturalised as a British citizen. Those who have not lived in the UK for five years will obtain limited leave to remain, also referred to as pre-settled status.
EU citizens and their family members who were living in the UK before 31 January 2020, or who moved to the UK before the end of the transition period are able to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. Applications to remain must be made by 30 June 2021, although it is recommended that they are actually made before 31 December 2020.
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, close family members will be able to join EU citizens living in the UK after the end of the transition period, where the relationship existed on that date. Applications would also be able to be made under the scheme for children born overseas.
All of the above provisions also apply to Swiss, Icelandic, Lichtenstein and Norwegian nationals.
EU citizens who move to the UK from 1 January 2021
A new immigration system is being designed by the UK Government, similar to the ‘Australian-style’ points-based system. It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy.
A new visa application process and immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 for applications to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021. The points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor.
From January 2021, the job you’re offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). You’ll also need to be able to speak English. The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600.
If you will earn less than this – but no less than £20,480 – you may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against your salary. For example, if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.
There will not be an immigration route specifically for low-skilled workers. The seasonal agricultural visa pilot scheme will be expanded – recognising the significant reliance this sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.
Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You’ll be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:
A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. You’ll be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years.
Short-term work visas in specific sectors (the current ‘Tier 5’) and investor, business development and talent visas (the current ‘Tier 1’) will be opened up to EU citizens.
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