The Minister of Immigration, Brandon Lewis has confirmed that EU nationals applying for settled status (during the Brexit transition) will not have to wait for months for their registration to be complete. All EU applications will be dealt with in a matter of weeks, and the process will be straightforward using an online portal system, similar to that used to renew driving licences. Registration is due to start in the second half of next year.

Settled status will be available to EU nationals who have lived lawfully in the UK for five continuous years. A formal application will have to be made and approved by UKVI for EU nationals to attain settled status in the UK. Settled status will not be granted automatically. EU citizens who have not yet met the five-year requirement will be entitled to apply for continued residence in the UK on a temporary basis until they reach the five-year mark.

Lewis said that EU “settled status” applicants would have to verify their identity, pass a criminality check and establish five years’ residence in the UK. The Home Office would use existing HMRC tax/DWP national insurance databases to verify applications.

He also told MP’s that he was optimistic that an agreement could be struck by Christmas on the rights of EU citizens in the UK in the Brexit negotiations. The 3million group, representing EU nationals in Britain, immediately questioned Lewis’s claim that an agreement with the EU on “settled status” was likely before Christmas. “We wonder how. Major stumbling blocks still in place,” they tweeted, noting continued differences over the role of the ECJ, over family reunification rights that could affect thousands, and regarding clarification that they should not face “hostile environment measures”.

The uncertainty continues for EU citizens seeking to secure their future in the UK. As yet, it is a matter of awaiting the outcome of EU exit negotiations and the resulting formal agreement. In the meantime, it is advisable to collate and retain documentary evidence supporting your residence status, in the event this is required as part of a settled status application process.