Embattered May revokes EU expat registration charge

Published:  23 Jan at 6 PM
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Theresa May’s reversal of the EU expat charge for registration should at least make European expats feel more welcome in the UK.

When announced, the so-called ‘settled status fee’ caused anger amongst EU expats who’d been long-term UK residents either employed or with their own businesses. Social media comments mentioned paying UK taxes and social security for years, as well as investments made in property. May’s surprise announcement came the very day the pay-for-settlement scheme was due to be rolled out in its application stage.

The scheme itself is due to continue, with its March 30 start date unaltered, but no fees will be charged and those who’ve already paid will be reimbursed, although it’s limited to expats who’ve been living in Britain for more than five years. Those who’ve arrived less than five years ago will be able to claim pre-settled status and can stay until the five years are up before claiming full settlement rights. Expats eligible for settled status will be able to apply either online or via a smartphone app, but only if the phone uses Android.

The hospitality sector in particular welcomed the news, as some 25 per cent of the industry’s two million workforce are expats from EU member states. A high number of EU migrants working in the UK are low-waged and would have had extreme difficulty funding their applications, especially if they had families. Once the scheme is fully operational, identity checks for those not using the app will be made via posting ID documents to the Home Office for examination. Applicants should use recorded delivery mail and keep a copy of their documents against loss. Alternative local ‘chip check’ services are expected to be set up by local authorities or other providers.
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