I know a number of my constituents who are EU citizens have concerns about their future in the UK. That is why I am pleased that the Prime Minister has been clear with EU citizens in the UK that even in the event of no deal, their rights will be protected.
The new system for obtaining settled status will be streamlined, user-friendly and draw on existing Government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence. Applications will not be refused on minor technicalities without the applicant being given the opportunity to rectify them, and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate. As a result, the Home Office has said it expects the vast majority of cases to be granted, with refusals most likely to be because of serious criminality or if the person is not an EU citizen (or family member). Once obtained, people will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing their settled status. This is more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law.
I was very pleased when the Prime Minister announced that there will be no fee when the scheme opens in full on 30 March 2019. Any person who has applied during the pilot phases will have their fee reimbursed. This decision makes clear to EU citizens living in the UK that their contribution to our society is deeply valued and this will not change regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.
The agreement also provides certainty about healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system can benefit from what they’ve already put in and continue to benefit from existing coordination rules for future contributions. Those covered by the agreement will be able to continue to receive healthcare as they do now.
For more information about applying for settled status, visit the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families
If anyone has problems with the system, then they are welcome to contact me.