- The British government published details of its "settled status" scheme to provide EU citizens with residency rights after Brexit.
- The Home Office said plans are in place to create a new "digital, streamlined, user-friendly scheme" for European citizens, which safeguards their right to stay in the UK.
- The scheme will cost £65 per application, the Home Office said.
LONDON - The British government has released details of the "settled status" scheme which EU citizens in the UK will use to apply for permanent residency after Brexit.
The Home Office on Thursday published details of its proposals for the post-Brexit deal, which forms a key part of the Withdrawal Agreement still being negotiated by the EU and UK.
The Home Office said plans are in place to create a new "digital, streamlined, user-friendly scheme" for European citizens which safeguards their right to stay in the UK by granting them settled status, but it's an enormous task.
Here's what we've learned so far:
1. Application fees: The government intends to charge £65 per application and £32.50 for a child under 16. The Home Office said the fee is "less than the price of a passport."
2. Settled status: Any EU national who has been a resident in the UK for five years will be able to apply for settled status, which provides the right to remain in Britain but falls short of full citizenship.
3. Pre-settled status: Any EU citizens arriving by the end of 2020 - or those who have been resident for less than five years - will be granted "pre-settled status" and given the right to stay in the UK for five years. After that, they can apply for settled status.
4. Loss of settled status: People will lose their right to settled status if they are absent from the UK for longer than five years.
5. Proof of residence: The Home Office will check the employment and benefit records held by the government for proof of residence. The department said that means, for many, the proof will be "automatic."
6. Family reunions: The deal will mean close family members of those with settled status who live in a different country can reunite at any point in the future. They will then be eligible to qualify for settled status after five years.
7. Unmarried partners can apply: Close family members count as spouses, civil partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and dependent grandparents. They also include "durable partners" - a boyfriend or girlfriend of longer than two years.
"EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society. They are our friends, family and colleagues and we want them to stay," said immigration minister Caroline Nokes. "This is an important step which will make it easy for EU citizens to get the status they need to continue working and living here."
Ministers insist the Home Office is up to the scale of the challenge but a host of potential problems remain for the department, the reputation of which is still reeling from the Windrush scandal.
There remain significant doubts among EU citizens whether a department known for its blunders and its high rejection rates for residency applications is capable of registering as many as four million citizens in such a short amount of time.
"A massive task still lies ahead," said Jill Rutter, director of strategy at think-tank British Future. "Just a five refusal rate could leave 170,000 people here without status."
Business Insider reported in May that the application scheme itself will include a range of digital processes - including an app complete with a request for a selfie - designed to ensure the process is as quick and easy as possible. Whether that is possible remains to be seen.