“Settled Status” and supporting employees through Brexit
04 October 2018
Following the Government’s announcement of its plan for EU migrants following Brexit, many UK employers are struggling to understand the potential effects of its proposal on employees who are EEA nationals or family members of EEA nationals.
What is the current situation?
The Government has set out its intentions for the future status of EEA nationals and their family members. The plan is that all EEA migrants and their family members are going to apply for settled status under a new process. The type of status they will be eligible for will depend on the amount of time they have resided in the UK and the date they arrived in the country. We know that those who have acquired permanent residence will be able to swap their status directly for indefinite leave to remain / Settled Status.
The Government has entered Beta testing phase for the Settled Status system. Subject to this proving successful, the application process is expected to go through a staggered roll-out between now and March 2019. In March 2019, it should be open to all applicants. This is unlikely to change, even if there is a no-deal Brexit.
How will the Settled Status system work?
Having seen the proposed system, it is expected to be available through both an android phone app and a website. The app has the significant advantage of allowing the applicant to verify their identity with the passport on the app, rather than posting it into the Home Office for verification.
Those who have already applied for and obtained a Permanent Residence card, will be able to swap this for the new Settled Status. Everyone else will either be granted Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status, if eligible.
What can you do now for your employees?
It is vital that EU nationals and their family members are made aware of the proposals and the process they will have to follow. Those who have lived in the UK for a long time may be able to apply for British citizenship now, thus avoiding the requirements of the new system. Those who have been here for five years will be able to apply for Permanent Residence.
HR staff will also benefit from understanding the new system and how this will affect European staff being relocated to the UK.
We have developed a suite of options, including training and streamlined application support, to help businesses support their employees.
Knowledge is key in being able to negotiate the complex landscape your employees will face. We can provide training for large or small groups on the Government’s Brexit plans. We can tailor this for HR staff who need to understand how they will be able to lawfully employ EU staff in the future and for employees who are directly affected by the new arrangements.
We can offer a presentation or a roundtable discussion depending on your preference. We are flexible regarding length, but we recommend a session of two hours to give employees a comprehensive understanding of their rights, the available documentation and an opportunity to take questions from the group.
Now we have a clearer idea of the rights and entitlements EEA nationals will have after the date of Brexit, it is important that individuals obtain specific tailored advice on their particular circumstances as there can be many variable factors. We can provide one-on-one surgeries of 15 to 30 minutes per person to advise them on their situation. The surgeries work well as a compliment to the training session.
3. Application support
Although the Settled Status application process should be relatively straight forward, these things seldom are in practice and we find that regardless of how simple something is, applicants really appreciate reassurance and support when submitting such an important application. We can bring an android phone to your office or laptop and spend time supporting your employees in the submission of their applications. This also helps reassure you as an employer that your immigration compliance duties will more easily be met as everyone has the status they require.
We also offer more comprehensive application support to employees who are making applications for Permanent Residence under the current system and want to naturalise as a British citizen. We offer streamlined application support at low cost to individuals making straightforward applications on the basis of employment in the UK.
As part of our streamlined application service we also offer a ‘passport back’ submission service for both Permanent Residence applications and naturalisation applications in conjunction with a local council. All the applicant will need to do is attend an appointment at our office where a council official will check their application and passport for identity purposes. This will mean the applicant can walk away with their passport on the same day and continue to travel freely. For naturalisation applications, it also means that their British passport application is submitted concurrently to their application for naturalisation which saves them (approximately) six weeks of the separate passport application process.