By Jack Walsh
TRADE group UK Hospitality has welcomed the government’s post-Brexit ‘settlement scheme’ for EU citizens, but criticised the continued lack of clarity surrounding future immigration policy.
Under the new scheme, EU citizens who wish to continue living in the UK after it leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019 will be able to apply for ‘settled status’ in “three easy steps”; they will be required to prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions.
The application system, which will be available online and will open on a phased basis later this year, will be “streamlined and user-friendly”, according to the Home Office, which said it will be “looking to grant, not reasons to refuse” applications.
Costing £65 per adult and £32.50 per child, applications will be open until June 30, 2021 – six months after the final day of the Brexit transition period.
EU citizens who have lived in the UK continuously for five years or more can apply for settled status and, therefore, remain in the UK indefinitely, while those who arrive by December 31, 2020 (the end of the transition period) but have not yet lived in the UK for five years will be granted ‘pre-settled status’ and can apply for permanent residence upon reaching the five-year point.
Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UK Hospitality, told SLTN the scheme is “greatly reassuring” for EU citizens living and working throughout Scotland.
“We very much welcome the announcement about the system for obtaining settled status, [but] we remain very concerned about the fact that there’s no certainty, no clarity about immigration policy moving beyond 2020,” he said.
Criticising the current ‘five-tier’ immigration system, Macleod said “it seems to discriminate against the people our industry needs”, adding, “we don’t think that tiered system will provide for our labour needs in future”.
Macleod said the UK’s approach to immigration post-Brexit “has to recognise the needs of industries like ours, it has to recognise our skills and manpower shortages – and it’s got to be efficient, easy to administer and low-cost”.