The third phase of testing for the government’s settled status scheme has opened, with millions of EU nationals expected to apply to continue living and working in the UK. So what do your EU employees need to do now?
The government previously said earlier test phases of the scheme had gone smoothly, but with all such systems when huge numbers of people try to use it at the same time, the key to success will be its robustness.
It is estimated that there are currently 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK who will have to apply for settled status by 30th June 2021 if they wish to remain in the country after Brexit (on the assumption that Brexit is not delayed.)
This latest stage of the rollout is only open to those with a valid passport – as opposed to a national ID card – and applicants must be able to download the Home Office app for Android phones. So, if applicants only have a phone with another operating system, such as an iPhone then they may need to borrow one! Hopefully the government will be able to arrange for the software to be available on all phone platforms by the time it has finished the testing phase. See https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-settlement-scheme-applicant-information
for more detailed information.
Some employers had previously said that they would help employees by covering the £65 fee, but Prime Minister Theresa May has since said that the fee will be scrapped and anyone who has already paid it will be reimbursed.
The nationwide launch of the scheme is expected to happen by the end of March 2019 and employers might wish to encourage employees to apply early to help them feel more secure, but you can’t force staff to apply for settled status if they don’t want to.
However, employers will be waiting to find out from the government what changes will be made in the Right to Work check process to enable them to ensure that EU employees have the appropriate permission. More information on this will be provided when that has been announced.