EU Citizens urged to apply to EU Settlement Scheme
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. 'Brexit', as it is known, will have a huge impact on rural Scotland and one key area will be the effect on EU citizens living and working in rural Scotland.
The rural economy is particularly reliant on people from all over the EU who have a vital mix of skills to support key industries. Key sectors such as agriculture, fishery and tourism are heavily dependent on EU workers and continued opportunities for EU citizens to live and work in Scotland are essential to rural and coastal Scotland’s continued success and sustainability.
The First Minister made a commitment to EU citizens that Scotland remains their home and has promised to continue to make a strong case for their rights to be protected in any EU exit scenario, stating “It is vital for our communities and our economy that EU nationals know they are welcome and will be supported to stay in Scotland”.
EU citizens currently living in the UK have to apply to the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 if they want to keep living in the UK after this date. In order to be eligible to apply to the Scheme, EU citizens will need to show they are resident in the UK by the end of December 2020 (the online application is available here).
This is a crucial stage of the application process and, with the impacts of COVID-19, it may be more difficult for people to find the support they might need to apply. The Scottish Government is therefore keen for potential applicants to be aware of the timescales and to have the support and guidance needed to successfully navigate the process.
The Home Office guidance on the Scheme, including who is eligible to apply and what applicants need to prove, is available on the Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme webpage. To help EU citizens living and working in Scotland, the Scottish Government has also produced materials under the Stay in Scotland campaign to support those applying to the Scheme which can be found at EU citizens staying in Scotland: package of support.
Employers can play an important role in raising awareness of the Scheme to relevant staff and making them aware of the timescales and support available. To support this the Scottish Government has also produced guide for employers, which can be found here
The Scottish Government is also supporting EU citizens to stay in Scotland by funding The Citizens' Rights Project to raise awareness of the EU Settlement Scheme with EU citizens across Scotland, and with the organisations that support them. The Project has been holding virtual events during the pandemic and information about upcoming events can be found on their website.
The Scottish Government is also part funding Citizens Advice Scotland to deliver an Advice and Support service for those applying to the EU Settlement Scheme. This includes a national Freephone helpline which is staffed by qualified advisers. EU citizens can receive information, advice and support by calling the helpline on 0800 916 9847.