EU and EEA (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland) nationals living in the UK will have to pay a €75 fee to gain the right to remain in the country after Brexit; children will be charged just over €40.
The main objective is to provide EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years with a “settled” status in Britain. It is unclear what happens to those living in the UK for a shorter period of time, though a “pre-settled” status has apparently been discussed.
The plans unveiled by Home Secretary Sajid Javid on June 21 suggest the British government is planning for an exclusively online process – geared mainly towards smartphones – and mostly financed by the applicants: €342 million has been set aside on the pre-registration process, which the government hopes to recover via the fees charged.
The budget includes the development of an online platform, jobs for up to 1,500 staff members, and a passport verification process. The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, cast doubt over the cost, calling them “dodgy” .
The process will confirm an individual’s eligibility of residence and suitability, while automatically excluding anyone with a criminal record. Applicants will have to post their passport or EU Identity Card, which will be scanned and verified.
The platform will only work on Android devices owned by a third of the population. Over 3.5 million passport holders will be forced to use a special postage service, which could increase the handling costs for EU citizens.
Applicants will also have to provide a proof of residence, which will include automated tax and driving license checks. The deadline for all applications will be June 2021.
Unlike Commonwealth citizens, the 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK were not allowed to vote in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has questioned the rationale of a fee for application handling since EU citizens have paid their taxes and were not allowed to vote. Similar concerns have been raised by the European Parliament.
The Scottish National Party also pointed out that if 5% of EU citizens fail to register, approximately 200,000 people would fall through the cracks. Javid offers assurances that the “default position” will be “yes” on all applications unless there is a good reason to say “no.”