A good while ago I published a video about becoming British through naturalisation. With the Brexit deadline right around the corner, there has been a lot of change in how temporary and permanent residence, the pre-requisites to becoming a British national, are changing.
The topic touches me personally – not only I have members of family and friends who are living in the UK on my mind, but also my partner who is not British, and our families living outside of the UK.
Here is what I was able to find out recently, through the blurry guidelines published by the Home Office and a couple of discussions with immigration lawyers.
If you are looking to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen before the transition period ends, nothing changes for you. Refer to the aforementioned video for the process.
For anybody wanting to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen after the Brexit date, or looking to remain in the country after the transition period without obtaining citizenship, the following is now relevant.
Brexit with a deal scenario:
A deadline to apply for pre-settled or settled status will be 30 June 2021. The date marks the end of the transition period.
This new status format will effectively replace temporary and permanent residence registration and even if you already have been registered as a resident with the Home Office, you will need to apply for this new format.
Brexit with no deal scenario:
The deadline will be 31 December 2020. You will still need to apply for the pre-settled or settled status to remain within the UK.
How to apply:
The ‘test’ run of the status application is available for all EU nationals who have a biometric passport. To apply you will need to download the app – it’s available on Android only. Not a joke – British Government failed to clear it with Apple.
Each application will require £65 payment which will then be reimbursed to you. Again, not a joke. Theresa May decided to scrap the fee the night before the app launched and didn’t tell the developers so now they are having to process a payment and then process a refund.
You might want to reconsider living in this country just based on that. I am kidding of course, but no, really.
You can use any Android phone, it doesn’t have to be yours. The app will not store your data – it will just generate a link which you will follow to complete your application on any device of your choice. There are scanning issues – it might take multiple tries for your passport to be recognised by the app. One of my work colleagues tried over 20 times before it worked. The app uses contactless technology and only works with biometric passports as they contain data chips responsive to this technology.
What is pre-settled status:
If you do not have 5 years of continued residence within the UK at the date of application, you will be granted pre-settled status for a period of 5 years. Pre-settled status equates to a 5-year visa. You can apply again after 5 years, or if you qualify for settled status during that time, you can apply for the same as soon as you qualify.
You will be able to spend up to 2 years abroad without losing the pre-settled status, but any such moves will zero out your time qualifying for settled status.
If you bring children into the world in the UK, they will receive pre-settled status unless they qualify for British citizenship through you or their other parent. They will not automatically receive British citizenship by birth.
What is settled status:
You will be able to apply for a settled status if you have been living in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years and have applied before 31 December 2020. This status is similar to what permanent residence is now, enabling you to live in the UK with the same benefits as citizens (except certain voting rights) and apply for the citizenship. Importantly, this status will also allow you to bring your family into the UK easily after 31st December 2020.
Parliament is yet to confirm whether the length of absence of up to 5 years will be permitted without losing your settled status.
Your entry into the UK might be barred if you are staying in the country for a period of more than 3 months following the end of the transition period and without a settled or pre-settled status. You read that correctly – we are basically going back to having, in effect, visas.
Permanent residency scenario:
There is only one scenario where it is still worth applying for permanent residence registration instead of settled status. If you have resided in the UK for more than 6 years or are married to a British national and have resided in the UK for more than 3 years, permanent residence might be your fastest track to naturalisation as a British citizen.
This is because permanent residency applications will be backdated against the evidence of when an EU national first started exercising their EEA treat rights in the UK. So if you have been in the UK for 6 years, your residency card would be backdated by the Home Office by 1 year when you became eligible for permanent residency. Such backdating enables you to go ahead with naturalisation application right away, because the card indicates that you have ‘held’ it for 12 months or more already.
Such back-dating will not be allowed for the settled and pre-settled status applications.
UK citizens in the EU countries:
Well…wherever you are in the EU, you will need to apply for an equivalent of settled or pre-settled status. The Brexit with a deal deadline will be the same as in UK i.e. 30 June 2021. In case of no deal Brexit, each country will decide that for themselves.
Germany announced that the transition period will be limited to 3 months i.e. 29 June 2019.
Netherlands announced that the transition period will be limited to one year and 3 months, 30 June 2020.
Check your country of residence if you are a brit abroad, in case of no-deal Brexit it will be each country’s own decision.
The application cost for settled and pre-settled status is Nil. You will be charged £65 and then refunded when applying.
The application cost for permanent residence is £65 per applicant.
The application cost for naturalisation as a British Citizen is £1,330.
The cost for biometric data scanning currently stands at £19.20.
Standard adult passport fee is £75.50 if applied online or £85 if applied by post.
You will find all core information on the gov.uk website.