As a result of the Brexit vote, more than 3 million EU citizens in the UK will have to apply for settled status if they wish to stay beyond June 2021.
Luke Piper, an immigration lawyer from Bristol-based South West Law, has answered key questions including what documents you need to keep hold of.
Is registration necessary?
Mr Piper said: “If you are a non-Irish EU citizen living in the UK and you are unsure what you need to do, you need to establish if you need to do anything at all.”
Some EU citizens might already have dual nationality and others will already have some form of UK immigration status meaning that they will not have to apply for a status under the new settled status scheme.
“But for the vast majority, they will need to apply under the new scheme.”
When should the application be made?
Mr Piper said: “If Brexit happens, EU citizens who need to do something, must act." Even if there is no deal between the EU and the UK"
He warns that EU citizens who have not acquired or applied for some form of UK immigration status before the deadline (currently June 30, 2021 if there is a deal), then EU residents could have problems with accessing key services (such as the NHS), opening bank accounts and obtaining or continuing to work.
It is recommended that EU citizens pay attention to the news and the Home Office's announcements as the deadline to apply will likely change and be sooner in the event of a no deal between the EU and the UK.
There is a public test phase which means that certain EU citizens can apply now should they wish. The scheme will open fully by March 30, 2019.
What documents are needed?
Although the government have said they will be able to use tax and benefit records held by HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions to establish continuous residence, Mr Piper said collecting other documents would be beneficial
If the government held records alone do not show continuous residence then collect other records- for example council tax bills, school records, tenancy/ rent documents, GP letter, utility bills, mobile phone bills- to present with the application. You should also make sure that you and your family have valid passports ready to apply.
What pitfalls are in the process?
“If you need some advice, get some,” advises Mr Piper.
Those who have spent long periods abroad (breaking continuous residence), those with a criminal record and those who may struggle to access and use the new status should seek legal advice before applying