The Government's 'Settled Status' plan - what does it mean for EU migrants?
Uncertainty about the government’s post-referendum attitude towards EU migrants who have been long-term residents of the UK has been a persistent thread of Brexit discourse. Would there be deportations, or would the government prioritise granting British citizenship to stem the ever-increasing flow of EU citizens leaving the country?
There’s already been backlash regarding the government’s mishandling of the ‘Windrush’ generation, where Caribbean migrants who had been living in the UK for several decades as taxpayers suddenly came under the threat of deportation because they had, unbeknownst to them, never formally been granted citizenship. After a huge pushback by the public, the media and from within Westminster itself, no deportations were ever carried out and a formal apology was issued to those who had been affected. However, to say that the fears of any EU migrant about the future of their British citizenship status had been assuaged by this would be entirely incorrect.
The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who replaced Amber Rudd after the fallout of the Windrush scandal cost her the position, has recently introduced his plans to make it easier for EU migrants to apply for what has been entitled ‘settled status’. In essence, this term applies to anyone who has been a resident in the UK for a minimum of five years by the end of 2020 (which is when the scheme is planned to be rolled out), or to those who arrive before the end of that year and intend to stay for the necessary five years needed to gain settled status.
The scheme – costing £65 for adults and half that figure for under-18s – will ask applicants for their identification, check their criminal record, and ask to prove their residency in the country. Javid says the scheme will aim to grant far more citizenship requests than deny them.
In order to be as simple as possible for applicants, the government aims to release this scheme as both a desktop website and smartphone app, as well as in libraries, but there are some concerns regarding the tight deadline that the government has given itself to get the £170 million scheme up and running from scratch. Whether Javid’s ambitious plan has helped minimise the confusion and uncertainty of EU migrants in the UK, however, is still unclear thus far.