EU citizens who work in health and social care have been offered the option of applying for settled status before March 29th 2019, the date the UK is set to leave the EU. The offer will also be made to those who work in Universities.
This option is denied to their family members by the UK Government.
The settled status scheme will not open until March 2019 and is only open until 30th of June 2021. This pre – offer opens on 29th of November 2018.
All the EU citizens who have lived and worked here – married, had children – contributed to our communities – have to apply to stay. And they have to pay for this too: £65 for all those over 16 and £32.50 for children.
One of the sectors where there will be a staffing crisis should we lose our EU citizens if they decide not to stay in the UK is in health and social care. That is why the UK Government is so keen to offer those working in that sector a way of applying earlier – but not for their partners or children. Just the person working in that sector.
Jeane Freeman, the Health Secretary in the Scottish Government, and her counterpart in the Welsh Assembly have written to the UK Government Minister of State for Immigration Caroline Nokes with their concerns about this policy.
The UK Government has power over immigration so all the Welsh and Scottish administrations can do about this is to register their serious concerns.
In their joint letter, Jeane Freeman and Vaughan Gething offer to take over the management of the pilot scheme. They state:
“We firmly believe that the potential benefits of including family members far outweighs the administrative difficulties you cite in your letter of 2 October for not including them. If you are amenable, and if your concerns are mainly about making the pilot cohort too large to manage, then we would be content to pilot the inclusion of family members in Scotland and Wales.”
“Earlier ministerial engagement would have provided a more timely opportunity to discuss and agree matters such as including family members in the settlement scheme while still in its planning stages.”
According to the Office of National Statistics 784,900 British citizens live in the EU. This figure excludes Ireland and was ‘accurate’ as at 1 January 2017.
Some of the UK citizens work in those countries ( mainly Finland and the Czech Republic) but 26% have retired to warmer climes where there are cheaper costs of living. More than 2/3 of UK citizens living in the EU live in Spain. It is not known yet what will happen to those people many of whom will require health and social care if they have to return to the UK.
The figures quoted do not include those who live part of the year in EU countries. Estimates put that figure at 729,000.
EU citizens living in the UK can find out information here: Settled and Pre-Settled Status for EU Citizens and Their Families.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame