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Government to design new application process system for EU citizens after Brexit

Matteo Natalucci Published 08 November 2017

Government says it will consider “digital ways” to verify identity “to make it both secure and user friendly”; EU unconvinced by UK application system proposal


The government has outlined a vision for the introduction of a new “digital, streamlined and user friendly application system” for registering EU citizens after Brexit.

In a  technical document  sent to the European Commission as part of negotiations, the government said it recognised that the system it currently has in place for dealing with the processing of registration certificates and residence cards is not fit to deal with the situation after the UK will leave the EU. It will now design a new system from scratch, with “new processes, technology, rules and support for applicants.”

The government said, “People are concerned that the application process will be complicated and bureaucratic. The UK recognises that the system it currently has in place for dealing with the processing of registration certificates and residence cards under Directive 2004/38 is not fit to deal with the situation after we leave the EU.

It continued, “We are therefore designing a new system from scratch, with new processes, technology, rules and support for applicants. The process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way. The UK has established user groups, consisting of representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical and legal experts, to help us factor stakeholder views into the design and operation of the new scheme.

“These groups will enable us to test implementation systems and guidance as they are developed, build our understanding of the range of user needs, and develop communications in line with user needs.”

The UK proposal added that, “We will verify identity and are considering digital ways to do this in order to make it both secure and user friendly.”

The government said it plans to give to EU citizens two years time, after the UK leaves the EU, to make an application for settled status.

It insisted that the fee for applying for settled status will not exceed the cost of a British passport and said the  cost will not be linked to other Home Office immigration application fees, for example, the fee for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation as a British citizen.

The new system aims to minimise the documentary evidence that applicants need to provide and enabling caseworkers to contact applicants to resolve minor issues.

The UK document also sets out that applicants will be asked to declare any criminal convictions and be checked against UK security databases.

Subject to getting an early agreement with the EU on these issues, the government is also planning to set up a voluntary application process before the  UK leaves the EU so that those who wish to do so can get their new status “at their earliest convenience.”

Applicants who are not yet able to evidence the five years’ continuous residence necessary to obtain settled status, but who can evidence that they were resident before the specified date, will be given temporary status, the government said. This will enable them to remain in the UK until they have built up five years’ continuous residence allowing them to apply for settled status.

For those who already hold a valid EEA permanent residence document, there will be a simple process to exchange this for a settled status document

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “Applying for settled status will be a streamlined, low-cost, digital process and EU citizens are being consulted on its design to ensure it is user-friendly.”

However, the European Parliament gave the UK proposal a lukewarm response, saying, “Major issues still need to be addressed to secure equal and fair treatment for EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

The European Parliament’s steering group said, “We don’t recognise reports suggesting that a deal on citizens' rights is almost finalised. There are still major issues that have to be resolved.”


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