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Brexit: Further EU Settlement Pilot Scheme extended to EU staff at HE institutions

  • United Kingdom
  • Brexit
  • Employment law


The Home Office announced new information about the EU Settlement programme, known as “settled status”, on 11 October. Up until now the initial pilot scheme has been limited to staff at three universities in Liverpool and twelve NHS Trusts in the North West. However, the categories of EU nationals being eligible to apply for settled status under the pilot will shortly be extended under the second phase of the testing process. With effect from 15 November, EU citizens working for higher education institutions holding a Tier 4 sponsor licence will be eligible to apply and this is to be extended to NHS employees on 29th of the same month. This is a second pilot scheme, following that conducted in Merseyside in September and October. The intention of this exercise is to ensure that the Government’s processes are suitable before the scheme is extended to all EU citizens.

Settled status is scheduled to be introduced to all EU citizens following the UK’s departure from the European Union in March 2019. All apart from citizens of Ireland need to complete this process, including those who have already obtained confirmation they are permanent residents in the UK. A streamlined digital application process is anticipated allowing applicants who can establish their identity, residence and absence of disqualifying factors (such as a serious criminal record) to register.

The initial pilot sought up to 4,000 participants, but only 650 applications were made. UK Visas and Immigration provided considerable support to those insitutions who wished to encourage their staff to apply for settled status; this level of support is unlikely to be possible for the large number of employers potentially engaged in this second stage of the pilot. Some groups and trade unions representing staff in the initial pilot recommended that EU citizens should not register at this stage; the fact that their rights after the date of Brexit have yet to be finally determined may have had an impact on this and explain the low numbers who did participate.

UK Visas and Immigration has released an Employer’s Toolkit about settled status, which is a helpful way to explain the process to employees. We recommend that those employers whose staff are able to apply for settled status communciate this information and consider carefully how they may support EU workers in this process.