The UK left European Union on 31st January 2020 and entered the transition period. Some rules will change from 1st January 2021.

From January, free movement of people between the UK and the EU will end and for long-term stay and residency the UK Government will implement a new point-based immigration system. People wanting to move to the UK to work, live or study will have to apply and pay for visa. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens won’t require visa for tourist visits to the UK of up to six months.

Citizens Advice Plymouth have been monitoring changes to the scheme and implications for our clients.

Our research has revealed that approximately 10,820 EEA nationals living in Plymouth applied under the EU Settlement Scheme by the end of April 2021. There sill might be thousands of people who need help with applications before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

Our services also reported a significant decrease in issues with the EU Settlement Scheme Application process.

Over the next month, we want to encourage EU and EEA nationals to apply under the scheme to protect their rights after 30th June 2021.

What have we done so far?

Since November 2019, we have been monitoring the situation and kept up to date with legislation cases. We have participated in many webinars organised by campaigning organisation in order to get insight into issues linked to Brexit, EU Settlement Scheme and the transition period. We have also created a survey which was shared on our social media and through our partners.

What have we found out?

The survey results suggest:

  • Only a small number of respondents weren’t aware of the scheme
  • The majority of respondents did not know the correct deadline for the scheme of 30 June 2021
  • Of the EU nationals who were aware of the scheme, most knew the correct deadline
  • Most respondents had received a reply to their application within 3 months but only some had had a reply within the first 3 weeks
  • Most of the EU Nationals who completed the survey had already applied to the scheme
  • All applicants who have children with non-British citizenship are aware they also need to apply for the children
  • A small proportion felt that they needed extra help with applying to the scheme
  • Most of the respondents are not aware of the help that is offered by Citizens Advice and the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council

The available research suggests that EU national have experienced many issues with the Settlement Scheme and application process. Our main concerns are:

  • The Government doesn’t know how many EEA nationals will apply to the scheme
  • There has been an increase in application refusals over the past couple of months
  • Coronavirus outbreak caused delays in processing of applications
  • The application process might not be free for those without biometric passport or needing additional evidence to be send to the Resolution Centre
  • People will not have a physical proof of their right to reside and will have to use their online record
  • Those who don’t apply on time might lose their entitlement to benefits and council tax support or council housing
  • Those applying to the scheme close to the deadline might be affected by the hostile environment
  • Numbers of refusals have increased since July 2020

We produced a short video explaining the EU Settlement Scheme and how to apply, watch it below:

If you need any help with your application or have questions about your rights after 30th June 2021, call us on 0808 278 7910

What you should know about changes to your rights from January 2021?

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals living in the UK before 31st December 2020 will have the same rights and don’t need to prove the settled status until 30th June 2021.

EEA/Swiss nationals still can use their passport or ID to prove their right to work, rent or access the NHS.

If the employer or landlord asks EU/EEA or Swiss nationals to prove their settled status before 1 July 2021, this could be discrimination.

From 1 July 2021EU and EEA citizens might be asked to prove their rights to do things like get a job or use the NHS. One they’ve got either pre-settled or settled status they will have a right to:

  • stay in the UK
  • work
  • study
  • use the NHS
  • rent a home

If someone has settled status, they have the same right to claim benefits as UK citizens – this is called ‘right to reside’.

If they have pre-settled status, they don’t automatically have the ‘right to reside’ to claim benefits. They might have the right to reside for different reasons – for example, because of things like their work or their family. Check if you can claim benefits with pre-settled status and have a right to reside for housing.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens will have until 30th June 2021 to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.