EU citizens eligible for ‘settled status’ after five years in UK
Post-Brexit process will entitle EU people to remain in UK and be joined by close family
Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid: “With the scheme, we’re meeting our commitment to secure the rights of EU citizens who are already in this country.” Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA
European Union citizens who have been living in Britain for at least five years will be eligible for “settled status” after Brexit, entitling them to live and work in the country and to be joined by close family members. Home secretary Sajid Javid said the online application process would be streamlined and user-friendly, with a decision made on eligibility within days.
Irish citizens will not need to apply for settled status because their right to live and work in Britain is guaranteed under bilateral arrangements but they may do so if they wish. Irish citizens living in Britain with non-EU spouses will, however, have to provide proof of residency for their spouse to remain in the country.
“With the scheme, we’re meeting our commitment to secure the rights of EU citizens who are already in this country, contributing in so many ways – they’re working, they’re studying or for other reasons. We want them to stay and we want to make that process of staying as easy as possible,” Mr Javid said.
The scheme will be rolled out later this year and applications will cost £65 per adult, with children half-price. EU citizens granted settled status will be issued with an ID number which will allow them to access public services such as the National Health Service and satisfy employment and property rental checks introduced by the Conservative government in its crackdown on illegal immigration. There will be no physical identity card for EU citizens.
Applicants for settled status will have to prove their identity, that they have no criminal convictions, and that they are currently resident in the UK.
“Our default position will be to grant status,” Mr Javid told the House of Lords EU justice sub-committee on Thursday.
“We will be looking to grant status as quickly as we can. We will not be looking for excuses at all to not grant status. It will be driven by default view, you provide this information, if you’re not going to be granted status there will have to be a very serious reason.”
The announcement came as junior trade minister Greg Hands resigned from the government ahead of a vote next Monday on expanding Heathrow airport. Mr Hands said he could not vote with the government in support of the plan, which he promised his constituents he would oppose.
The government has imposed a three-line whip for Monday’s vote but Theresa May said on Thursday that foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers rather than approve the airport expansion plan, would not have to be in the House of Commons.
“The government is absolutely committed to increasing airport capacity at Heathrow. This is important, it is part of our future as global Britain, and the ambitions we have as a trading nation for the future. And the foreign secretary, early next week, will be what I would describe as a living embodiment of global Britain. He will be out there showing the UK’s continued presence around the world and the work that the UK continues to do around the world, with our diplomacy, working on so many of the issues and the challenges that we face across the world today,” she said.