UK vows simple registration for EU citizens after Brexit
European Union citizens living in Britain can begin registering from this autumn for a post-Brexit settlement scheme, ministers said Thursday as they vowed to make the process as simple as possible.
Almost four million EU nationals currently live in Britain with no restrictions under the bloc's freedom of movement laws, but this will end with Brexit, when they must apply for a new status.
Unveiling further details of the plan, interior minister Sajid Javid said registering will be "as simple as people can reasonably expect" and would have no income requirement.
Applicants will only have to prove their identity, that they live in Britain and that they have no serious criminal convictions, and there will be no minimum income requirement.
The government agreed a deal with Brussels in December to allow EU citizens and their relatives to stay after Brexit.
But many have complained about the uncertainty that remains over whether they can stay or not, as well as the burden of red tape and the cost of applying.
Applications will be able to be made online with minimal documentation, and Javid said the expectation would be that everyone was eligible.
"We will not be looking for reasons, excuses, at all not to grant status," he told MPs, with grounds for refusal notably whether someone has a serious criminal conviction or applied fraudulently.
Britain is leaving the EU in March next year although freedom of movement will continue during an implementation period that ends in December 2020.
Europeans who have lived in Britain for five years by that point will be eligible for "settle status", granting indefinite leave to remain.
Newer arrivals will register for pre-settled status, which will allow them to stay for a further five years, and in future apply for settled status.
The scheme will start in the autumn but be fully functional by March, with the deadline for applications set for June 30, 2021.
Javid admitted that registering everyone in time was a "challenge", saying his department's casework team would increase from 700 to over 1,500 people.
The ministry also confirmed that carers, stay-at-home parents, retired people and students were all eligible, while the cost will be similar to that of a passport, Â£65 (74 euros, $86).
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: "EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society.
"They are our friends, family and colleagues and we want them to stay.
"This is an important step which will make it easy for EU citizens to get the status they need to continue working and living here."
She and Javid said they now wanted to hear more about arrangements for an estimated one million British nationals living elsewhere in the EU.
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