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UK Introduces New Immigration Rules for EU Nationals

The UK continues to tackle Brexit-related issues, particularly those concerning EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. The latter must apply to the Home Office till 31 June 2021 to get necessary status to legalise their stay in the country.

Two new terms have been introduced to the immigration rules in that regard: Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status. The former implies that a person has lived in Great Britain for over five years. The latter means that a person has lived in the UK for a shorter period of time.

It is worth noting that the Pre-Settled Status is given only to those who have moved to the UK before 31 December 2020, i.e. before the end of the Brexit transition period. However, close relatives of the applicant (a spouse or minor children) can join them later.

How long do I get my status for?

Pre-Settled Status gives an applicant the right to stay in Great Britain for five years from the date of getting it. If the five-year period of your stay in the UK ends before your Pre-Settled Status expires, you can apply for Settled Status without waiting for the Pre-Settled Status to expire.

For instance, an EU national has lived in Great Britain for two years before Brexit which gives them the right to apply for the Pre-Settled Status. Three years later, they can apply for the Settled Status or wait two more years on the Pre-Settled Status and apply to the Home Office later.

Settled Status is issued for an indefinite period of time. With this document, you can stay in Great Britain as long as you wish. If all the requirements are met, you can also apply for British citizenship.

How is the five-year period of stay determined?

You will need to have necessary documentary evidence of your continuous stay in the UK for the last five years. These can include a tenancy agreementand/or utility bills, tax reports, a letter from your employer, an insurance policy, etc.

Note that applicants for either of the two Statuses are allowed to leave Great Britain but no more than for 6 months a year. In exceptional circumstances such as an illness, military service or force majeure, they can stay abroad for up to 12 months.

Since the UK authorities announced the new rules, there has been a lot of concern that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will face serious consequences if they cannot apply for either status till 30 June 2021 as they will not have a valid immigration status from 1 July 2021.

Various civil rights groups began to advocate for the EU citizens living and working in Great Britain. They indicate that the new regulations can overnightmake law-abiding citizens into migrants with no documents who can be detained and deported. Besides, it might have serious economic consequences as the country will immediately lose a lot of specialists and will not be able to replace them in the nick of an eye.

As a result, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants initiated a litigation attempting to postpone the application deadline. During the litigation, the JCWI promoted the idea that the Home Office has not brought in sufficient measures to provide vulnerable immigrants (such as elderly people) with information about the application deadline.

However, the Supreme Court held that the grace period should be extended only for those who had substantial reasons not to apply for either status before the deadline. The Home Office has not provided any additional information yet concerning the length of the grace period and the way it can be used.

To sum up, we recommend all the migrants who have the right to apply for Pre-Settled or Settled Status to do that as soon as possible. You can also contact Imperial & Legal immigration advisors who will walk you through all the pitfalls of the new rules and help you apply as quickly as possible.

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