The final deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is 30 June 2021 and applications by affected individuals must be submitted by no later than that date, otherwise EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members could find themselves without the right to remain and work in the UK. Employers should encourage their staff who need to make an application, to make it as soon as possible, if they have not already done so.
What is the EUSS?
The Government has put in place a system for EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members to secure their right of residence in the UK. The system is called the “EU Settlement scheme” and it enables EEA and Swiss nationals to make an application to demonstrate their continued right to remain in the UK.
EUSS registration is an important step towards an individual retaining the benefits afforded to them as a resident of the UK. Evidence of status is important to proving the individual’s right to work to their employer and for example, if they are changing jobs, agreeing a tenancy or opening a bank account.
Who should apply?
The Scheme is open to nationals from the EEA and Switzerland and their family members.
Applications can be made by nationals of any of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
No application is necessary if the individual has any of the following:
Settled and pre-settled status
If the individual has been in the UK for five years or more, they should be granted settled status. Settled status allows an individual to live and work in the UK indefinitely and will be lost only once an individual has been absent from the UK for five years.
If the individual has been in the UK for less than five years, they should be granted pre-settled status. This can be converted to settled status at the five-year point, provided that the individual has not had excessive absences from the UK during the five-year period.
All EEA and Swiss nationals and their non-European family members who resided in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 are able to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
Importantly, EU nationals who already hold evidence of their status, for example a registration certificate or permanent residence card, also need to make an application under the EU settlement scheme to convert their status.
How to apply
The application process is generally straightforward and applications can be made online on the UK Government website here by completing two steps:
- Proving identity – by scanning a passport and uploading a digital photograph to an app. The applicant can also send the documents required to verify their identity by post or get the documents scanned in person at an application centre. See here for further details, including a list of locations where documents can be scanned.
- Completing an application form online. This will automatically search the HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Work and Pensions databases to establish continuous residence. There will be an opportunity to upload further evidence of residence where there are gaps in these databases, to allow the applicant every opportunity to establish continuous residence.
If additional information or support is needed about the application process, this can be obtained from the EU settlement resolution centre. Details are available on the EUSS here.
How long will the application take?
The Government advises that, for online applications where no additional information is required, the process is expected to take up to five days from the point at which the application is submitted although recently applications can take longer due to the volume of applications and Covid 19 delays. The process will in any event take longer if the application is by post or additional information is required.
See the Government website here for current expected processing times.
What happens next?
Once the individual has received their EU Settlement Status, individuals can, if they choose, provide their employer with a “share code” to prove their right to work in the UK and this can be applied for here. There is no current requirement for EEA Nationals and Swiss Nationals to provide this, and it must therefore be provided on a completely voluntary basis. The most an employer should do at this time is to encourage and remind staff to apply to the EUSS, whilst ensuring that they are not inadvertently giving immigration advice.
The Home Office recognises that employers may wish to ensure the stability of their workforce during the period up to 30 June 2021 and are able to provide help and support to prospective and existing employees to obtain the immigration status that they need beyond 30 June 2021. There is no mandatory requirement for retrospective right to work checks to be undertaken on EEA Nationals who were employed on or before 30 June 2021. If however an employer chooses to carry out retrospective checks, they must ensure that they do so in a non-discriminatory manner. If right to work checks were properly done when the employee was recruited, for the time being no further action is necessary. Please see our earlier article on right to work checks and other issues. The details in this article still remain correct at the time of writing, but may of course be subject to change in the coming months. We will keep you updated of any changes affecting employers.
From 1 July 2021 right to work checks will change and all EEA Nationals will be required to demonstrate they have a right to work through evidence of their immigration status, rather than through nationality, using the online service. New guidance on how to carry out right to work checks on EEA Nationals as from 1 July will be provided in advance of that date, according to the Home Office.
Support from employers
Whilst an application for settled or pre-settled status is very much a personal matter for the individual, it is of course helpful for employers if their employees who need to make an application under the Scheme complete the necessary formalities in a timely manner in order to prove their right to work in the UK.
Providing HR support or access to IT facilities can be offered to help individuals make their applications.
For more details of other steps employers can take to support their staff in these circumstances and how communications should be managed please see our earlier article.
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