This weekend the so-called ‘Super Saturday’ delivered a major blow to the prime minister after MPs voted to withhold approval on his Brexit deal. They forced Johnson to write to the EU requesting an extension – a letter he sent but didn't sign.
We now wait to see if speaker John Bercow will allow Number 10’s call for parliament to be given 'a straight up-and-down vote' on the PM's Brexit deal. But where does this leave EU citizens and employers when we’re still no further from knowing if we’re leaving the EU on 31 October with a deal or not, or an extension to January 2020?
For EU citizens a deal or no-deal Brexit should still remain at the forefront of their status, whether or not we see the PM’s plans for an Australian points-based system. Until we have clarification, EU nationals must assume a worst-case scenario and protect themselves – by December 2020 at the latest. (If we leave the EU on 31 October 2019 with a no-deal Brexit 31 December 2020 is the cutoff for EU nationals already in the UK to regularise their status under the settled/pre-settled status.)
Thereafter, if an EU national has not obtained pre-settled/settled status, in the event of a no-deal Brexit they will need to obtain leave to remain in the UK via the Euro Leave to Remain process, which is capped at three years maximum. Any further application will need to be satisfied under the UK immigration rules at the time.
Employers and HR professionals can use the scheme to apply for the settled/pre-settled status early with their workers, giving a sense of security to their workforce.
However, it does come with a number of obstacles. Firstly, each applicant must hold a valid passport, and with many EU nationals relying solely on their national ID cards this would restrict them in applying.
Secondly, to start the application process the migrant must download the Home Office ID Document Check app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store or find a location offering ID document scanning.
Lastly, there could be delays in the decision-making process given that millions of applications will undoubtedly be flooding in.
The most important thing to note is that the EU Settlement Scheme will not backdate settled status as per the current EEA permanent residence process (blue card). In the event of no deal, applicants will have to be living in the UK before it leaves the EU on 31 October 2019 to qualify under the EU Settlement Scheme.
It remains to be seen whether MPs will vote on Johnson’s deal this week or whether the PM will be forced to work to an extended deadline of January 2020. But no matter the outcome EU citizens, with the support of their employers, should work to a goal of December 2020 to secure their status in the UK.
Karendeep Kaur is a senior immigration consultant at Migrate UK