British immigration minister assures Poles they can stay in Britain

The British Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes expressed her hope in a commentary for PAP that the settlement scheme for EU citizens published on Thursday would assure Poles and their families that they could continue to live in Britain after Brexit.

Nokes stressed that three million EU citizens, including one million Poles, have chosen Britain as their home and have made a contribution to the development of its social structure. She appreciated the role played by Poles and other EU citizens in the functioning of the National Health Service (NHS), celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

The official declared that EU citizens could look into the future with confidence and assured them that the care of EU citizens in the UK was a top priority for the British government during Brexit negotiations.

She went on to say that the agreement reached in March would keep the rights of Polish citizens living in Britain to health care as well as social and retirement benefits approximately at the same level as before. She explained that they could remain at ease as these regulations would be included in British law.

Referring to the document published on Thursday, Nokes underlined that her team had been working hard to make it as simple and unequivocal as possible.

According to the statement published on the Home Office website, EU citizens will be able to apply for settled status in three easy steps for less than the price of a passport.

EU citizens living in the UK and their family members will need to apply under the settlement scheme to obtain their new UK immigration status.

Caroline Nokes confirmed that those applying under the scheme will only need to complete three key steps. They will need to prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions.

The Home Office will check the employment and benefit records held by the government which will mean that, for many, their proof of residence will be automatic.

Those who have not yet lived in the UK for five years will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point. From April 2019, this second application will be free of charge.

The draft Immigration Rules which were published on Thursday provide details of the scheme and deliver on the citizens’ rights agreement with the EU reached in March this year. The agreement also guarantees the rights of UK nationals living in the EU.

The settlement scheme will be phased in later this year and will be fully operational by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.