The UK has now officially left the European Union (EU). News reports have so far have focused on the impact of leaving on fishing or vaccines, but there are important considerations for EU citizens who’ve made the UK their home, many of whom have lived here for much of their lives.
A pressing deadline
Using statistics published by the Home Office, Age UK estimates there may be somewhere in the region of 40,000 people aged 65 years and older who are yet to make an application to the Settled Status scheme. This is the process that every EU citizen living in the UK needs to go through,in order to be given something called ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’. As the name suggests, once you are granted this you can remain living in the UK for as long as you want. However, the closing date to make your application is 30 June 2021, so time is getting short.
EU citizens who don’t make their Settled Status application by this deadline could potentially lose their rights to social security benefits, social housing, and social care services, among other things. We want to avoid that possibility, of course, so we would strongly encourage anyone from another European country to find out more about applying, as the Government has so far refused to consider extending the deadline.
Citizens from the following countries are affected:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Who should apply?
If you’ve lived here for more than 5 years, it’s very possible you will qualify for Settled Status, especially if you already receive a UK State Pension. Government guidance suggests that anybody receiving a UK State Pension should not have to provide any other evidence to demonstrate they satisfy the necessary criteria. In some cases, you might only need to have lived in the UK for 3 years, provided you worked for at least 1 year during that time.
How to get help with an application
If you need some advice and assistance, the Government has provided funding to a number of independent organisations that can help people to apply. Unfortunately, you cannot go to your local Age UK for help because they’re not registered to give immigration advice. If you are having any problems, though, help to apply is available by telephone as well as online. There’s also a short leaflet with more information and signposts to the organisations that can help you. For people who don’t have English as their first language, there are also a range of translated information resources.
All of these resources are available at the bottom of this page.
For people who live in care homes or who might not have mental capacity, it’s going to be very important their carers and other support workers look to assist them with making the application. At Age UK, we have raised the particular problems faced by these people but, other than the help outlined above, the Government has not put anything more supportive in place.
Check now and apply before June
So if you’re an EU citizen, you know someone who is, or you work with or care for someone from the EU, it’s worth checking they know about the Settled Status scheme and the need to make their application before the end of June. They shouldn’t need to provide a lot of evidence or paperwork and it could be beneficial to them in the long run to ensure a happy retirement.