What is the change? The U.K. government has announced plans to scrap all fees for EU nationals and their family members applying to register their residence in the U.K. under the EU Settlement Scheme. Registration under the scheme will now be free.

Key points:

  • The EU Settlement Scheme opened to the general public during an expanded pilot phase starting on Jan. 21, 2019.
  • EU nationals with a biometric passport, or family members with a biometric residence card, can now apply to register their residence in the U.K. using an online app (although the scheme will not be fully open for assisted applications until Mar. 30, 2019).
  • The elimination of fees will require a legal change to the immigration rules to go through Parliament over the coming week, and therefore the change will not be effective immediately.
  • Fees paid since the scheme opened on Aug. 28, 2018 will be refunded in due course.
  • Applications made over the coming days may still require payment, but the fee will also be refunded in due course.

As a reminder, under the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • Those with five years of residence or longer in the U.K. will be granted “settled status” and a right to a permanent stay in the U.K.
  • Those with less than five years of residence will receive “pre-settled status” with an option to reregister as “settled” in due course after Brexit.
  • EU Settlement Scheme applications are not mandatory at this stage.
  • By choosing to apply from Jan. 21, EU national applicants will provide valuable insight into the system’s functions and allow adaptions to be made prior to full launch on Mar. 30, 2019.
  • Applicants during this expanded test phase must use the EU Exit: Identity Document Check app, which is part of the integrated online application process, to prove their identity and then National Insurance Number records, or other official documents, to prove residence.

Analysis & Comments: Today’s announcement that the government will scrap fees for registration under the EU Settlement Scheme—£65 for adults and £32.50 for children—should be welcomed by employers and employees. Employers looking to support employees with EU Settlement Scheme applications should be ready for further questions about the scheme, especially regarding payments and refunds, and to amend any Brexit communications in light of this change once it is formally incorporated into the immigration rules.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.