Government pledges data-led digital process for EU citizens to apply for post-Brexit rights
Platform aims to be as streamlined as possible and call on existing data to verify users’ identity and details
Qualifying UK-resident EU citizens will likely have two years to apply for the rights granted to them by the UK's withdrawal agreement Credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP/PA
The government is designing a digital platform for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK. The service will be as streamlined as possible and will aim to “draw on existing government data” to verify users’ identity and status, the government said.
Once the UK has exited the EU, the terms of the country’s withdrawal agreement will set out certain rights and statuses that the UK will be required to confer upon qualifying UK-resident EU citizens and their families. The government expects to offer a two-year grace period in which people can apply for these rights and statuses to be granted.
If the withdrawal agreement is finalised early enough, the government also hopes to provide “a voluntary application process before we leave the EU, so that those who wish to do so can get their new status at their earliest convenience”.
The application process must be designed from scratch, as existing platforms for processing registration certificates and residence cards are “not fit to deal with the situation after we leave the EU”, according to the government.
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“The process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way,” the government said. “The UK has established user groups, consisting of representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical, and legal experts, to help us factor stakeholder views into the design and operation of the new scheme.”
It added: “These groups will enable us to test implementation systems and guidance as they are developed, build our understanding of the range of user needs, and develop communications in line with user needs.”
The end goal is to create a “streamlined, user-friendly, digital application process… [including] an assisted digital service for those who need support”.
An emphasis will be placed on how best “to minimise the burden of documentary evidence required” by using existing data to move through the process, where possible. An example of this will be the use of HMRC employment records which, in most cases, could easily verify a person’s status as a resident member of the workforce.
“We will [also] verify identity and are considering digital ways to do this, in order to make it both secure and user-friendly,” the government said. “We intend to ask applicants to submit a photograph. We will not ask EU citizens for other biometric data such as fingerprints.”
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