Dorota Peszkowska joined PBLINK Stories for a special settled status edition and delved into the detail of what support is available for European (EU, EEA and Swiss) citizens in the UK.
Dorota is a journalist, a campaigner and an activist. She moved to Scotland in 2015 from Warsaw and has worked as Editor in Chief at Emito.net in Edinburgh; Project Coordinator for EU Citizens’ Rights Project; a Human Testing Technician for the University of Edinburgh; and now works as EU Settlement Scheme Project Officer with Feniks Counselling, Personal Development and Support Services.
Dorota’s role involves both advising and assisting European citizens with the paperwork involved in securing pre-settled or settled status in the UK.
On the 31 December 2020 free movement, the automatic right for European (EU, EEA or Swiss) citizens to move to the UK to live and work, came to an end. It has been replaced by Settled or Pre-Settled Status for European Citizens already living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and a points-based immigration system for anyone seeking to live in the UK thereafter.
30 June 2021 - Deadline
Dorota explained that everyone must have applied for settled or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021, or you miss your chance and you will have to apply for a visa under the points-based immigration service, which is more complicated and levies a fee, dependent on which visa you apply for.
There is no fee to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
Settled status can be granted to European citizens who can prove that they have lived in the UK, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands continuously for at least five years. As this means at least 6 months in every 12-month period, some people have applied after 4 years 6 months residency in the UK and have been granted. Once settled status is granted, holders may be absent from the UK for up to five years in a row without losing their status and may bring eligible family members to the UK.
Settled status also allows certain voting rights in the UK
There is no fee to apply for settled status.
European citizens (EU, EEA or Swiss) who have lived in the UK for less than five years as of 30 June 2021 can apply for pre-settled status. This allows the person to remain in the UK until they complete their five-year period of residency to qualify for a settled status application. Once pre-settled status is granted, holders may be absent for up to two years in a row without losing their status.
There is no fee to apply for pre-settled status.
As Dorota has also been the Campaign Coordinator with Vote. You Are at Home, which encourages Polish people in Scotland to use their vote in Scottish Parliament and local authority elections, she stresses the importance of exercising your right to vote wherever you are and using your voice.
EU citizens in the UK may vote in all elections except Westminster elections, to elect MPs.
In England, this means that EU citizens may only vote in local elections at the moment, while in Wales, EU citizens may vote in local elections and for the Welsh Assembly.
“Leave to Remain”
Dorota pointed out a little quirk of the bureaucratic language used by the Home Office, where they talk of "leave to remain" for people applying to live in the UK.
This is very confusing for some people with English as a second language, especially after the highly publicised "Leave" Brexit campaign!
You must "leave" to remain?
Or, if you don't yet live here, you want "leave to enter"?
To clarify, in this context, “leave” means “permission”
Apply for pre-settled or settled status
European (EU, EEA and Swiss) citizens and family members can apply for pre-settled or settled status via the government website: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status
If you live in Scotland you can contact Dorota for advice on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.feniks.org.uk/project/eu-settlement-scheme-support-en/
In England, call 0300 3309 059 during working hours to speak to a Citizens Advice EU Citizens Rights adviser or visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/applying-for-settled-status/