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Settled status fee for EU citizens scrapped


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The Prime Minister has just announced that the £65 fee for EU citizens applying for post-Brexit settled status will be scrapped. Speaking in Parliament this evening (21 January 2019), Theresa May said:

having listened to concerns from Members – and organisations like the “The 3 Million” group – I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30th March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. And anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed. More details about how this will work will be made available in due course.

This is good news. It will save money for millions of EU citizens, many of whom were profoundly annoyed at having to pay to stay in their adopted homeland. There were also fears that the cost would deter people on low incomes from applying to the EU Settlement Scheme in the first place. Congratulations to campaign group the3million, to whom the Prime Minister explicitly gives credit for making the case for abolition.

The decision to charge £65 was announced last June. It is unfortunate that the government has persisted with the fee since then only to change its mind only after the Settlement Scheme has opened to applicants. Most EU citizens are eligible to apply from today, and over 30,000 applications have already gone in during beta testing phases. Most would have paid the £65 and all will have to be refunded — along with anyone who applies between now and 30 March. It appears from the Prime Minister’s statement that the current “public testing” phase, which despite the name is open to any EU citizen with a valid passport, will charge the fee only to refund it later.

The Home Office has estimated that each settled status application will cost £103 to process. The total administrative cost of the scheme between 2018/19 and 2021/22 was put at £410 and £460 million. Fees were expected to raise between £170-190 million. The department will now be on the hook for the entire cost of the scheme — which will go ahead whether or not there is a Brexit deal.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.