With the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019, the EU Settlement Scheme provides the basis for resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain the immigration status they will need to remain in the UK. It is anticipated that EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK or who move to the UK before 31 December 2020 will have to submit an application by 30 June 2021. Under the scheme, applicants may be granted either settled status if they have been in the UK for five years (indefinite leave to remain) or pre-settled status (limited leave to remain) if they have not reached the five-year mark at the time of making their application.

Phase 1 of the EU Settlement Scheme trial

The Home Office conducted an initial phase testing from 28 August to 17 October, in which EU nationals from 12 NHS trusts in the north-west of England, as well as students and staff from three Liverpool universities, were invited to apply for residence documentation via the EU Settlement Scheme.

1,053 applications were received. From those, 924 decisions were made and sent out to applicants by 30 October. Based on automated checks made against HMRC data, 85 per cent of those 924 applicants did not have to provide additional evidence. The other 15 per cent had to provide additional evidence to demonstrate their residence.

Phase 2 and next steps

The second phase of private testing will commence on 1 November 2018, and will cover a much wider group of potential applicants, including those with more complex cases who may not have a complete set of government data. From 15 November students and staff at UK universities will be able to apply, and from 29 November the testing pool widens again with inclusion of workers in health and social care.

Implications for employers

With the success of Phase 1 and the announcement of Phase 2, employers should ensure their employees have access to the most up-to-date information, and understand the key elements of the EU Settlement Scheme.

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