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Free settlement for EEA nationals

PUBLISHED: 21 January 2019
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When Theresa May’s Brexit deal was voted down in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019 by the shameful majority, she went to talk to MPs from other parties, trade unions, business representatives and others, and come back with a revised plan. Apart from discussions of a second referendum and extension of article 50, ministers are focusing on Irish border backstop and fate of EEA nationals who want to settle in the UK.

Week one saw Theresa May still trying to persuade MPs to either support her on the deal she had offered or stay in the EU. The only thing so far that was welcomed by many was her decision to waive the settlement fee for the European nationals who have been living in the United Kingdom.

This decision was fuelled by the the3million campaigners as well as concerns from trade unions and other organisations regarding the post-Brexit fate of 3.6 million Europeans living in the UK. Issues raised included the lack of labour in social and health care sectors of the economy and the financial struggles of many EU citizens in the UK.

No application fee

The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully operational from 30 March this year, when Britain leaves the European Union, helping EU nationals and their families apply for a settled or pre-settled status. May confirmed that they will be able to do it free of charge instead of £65 for applicant over 16 and £32.5 for those under 16. Europeans who have already applied, while the Scheme is in the pilot mode, are guaranteed to get their money back as well.

How to get a refund

On 21 January 2019, the government started testing the EU Settlement Scheme. As the fee waiver will only apply from 30 March 2019, all applicants applying before that will be most likely charged the fee. However, they are promised full refund later, though it is still unclear how and when they should claim it. We will keep you posted on this.

Scrapping the application fee is another piece of the puzzle the UK government is trying to put into place to make sure that EU citizens can stay in the United Kingdom with the same rights and access to the benefits and services as pre-Brexit.

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