Britain’s Home Office has sent out an alert to all European Union citizens who are looking to apply for the immigration status they will need in order to remain in the UK permanently.
In a statement, the Home Office said that EU citizens and their family members will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for that form of immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme, which kicks in the day after Brexit on 29 March 2019.
It added: “Testing is already underway. Since August, EU citizens working for a small number of NHS trusts and universities in the northwest of England, and students at those universities, have been able to apply for status under the scheme.
“A new phase of testing will begin next month. It will involve many more organisations across the UK, including higher education institutions and organisations in the wider health and social care sector. Testing the system with real applicants helps the Home Office ensure the new system operates effectively when it opens fully.”
Under EU membership, Britain has adhered to the Freedom of Movement Act which allows any citizens from countries within the bloc to travel, live, and work freely in any of the 28 nations. However, immigration has been one of the biggest sticking points for both the UK and the EU.
The people who voted for Brexit, largely pipped for severing ties with the EU because of fears over immigration. The UK government has been trying to see if Britain can leave the bloc with trade ties still in place but without having to agree to the Freedom of Movement. However, EU officials have repeatedly said that Brexit is not an “a la carte menu” and Britain cannot choose the bits it wants and doesn’t from EU membership.
This is largely stalling talks and a no-deal Brexit is being touted as a likely outcome. This throws into question the immigration status of EU citizens that live and work in Britain as well as what that will mean for Brits abroad.
The UK government added in its notice today: “You do not need to do anything for now. EU citizens eligible to apply in the latest test phase will receive information from their employer.”