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Government scraps £65 fee for EU citizens to stay in the UK

The £65 fee which EU citizens were going to have to pay to apply for the right to continue living in the UK after Brexit is to be scrapped, Prime Minister Theresa May announced today.

EU citizens living in the UK have been told that they'll be able to stay here until the end of 2020, but they'll have to apply to stay beyond this.

The Government this week launched a 'test phase' of the EU Settlement Scheme – some who meet certain criteria can apply now, and the scheme will be fully open by 30 March. Applications cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for under-16s.

But the Prime Minister has said the fee will be axed when the scheme is rolled out in full. In the meantime, anyone who pays or has already paid it will be reimbursed.

For a full rundown on the likely impact of leaving the EU on property prices, visas, flights, consumer rights and more, see our 25 Brexit need-to-knows.

What was the fee for?

If you're an EU citizen living in Britain, you won't have to leave when Britain leaves the EU on 29 March. In fact, you and your family will be able to continue living in the UK without doing anything until 31 December 2020.

But if you want to stay beyond that, you'll have to apply for either 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status (unless you're an Irish citizen, or already have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK).

  • Settled status will be given to successful applicants who, by the time they apply, have been living in the UK for at least five years.
  • Pre-settled status will be given to successful applicants who won't have lived in the UK for five years by the time they apply.

Whether you're applying for settled or pre-settled status, you'll need to do so via the EU Settlement Scheme – which until today's announcement would have incurred the £65 fee for an adult.

Both settled and pre-settled status will mean you can live and work in the UK, enrol in education or continue studying, use the NHS, access benefits and pensions if eligible, and bring family members to the UK to stay long-term.

If you get pre-settled status, you can:

  • Stay in the UK for a further five years from the date you get pre-settled status.
  • Apply for settled status as soon as you've lived in the UK for five years and spent at least six months of each year in the UK. You will not need to pay a fee.
  • Spend up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing your pre-settled status.

If you get settled status, you can:

  • Stay in the UK for as long as you like.
  • Apply for British citizenship if you meet the requirements.
  • Spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status.
  • Your children will automatically become British citizens.

Full information on the scheme is available in our 25 Brexit need-to-knows guide.

I've already paid – how can I get a refund?

The test phase of the EU Settlement Scheme only launched this morning, but if you were one of the first to apply, you should be able to get a full refund.

The Government hasn't yet announced how it'll do this – we've asked what applicants should do and will update this story when we hear back.

The Prime Minister's only committed to axing the fee once the scheme is rolled out in full from 30 March, so if you apply to the test phase before then, there's a chance you could still be charged. The Government says you should be able to get a refund if so – but to keep things simple and avoid hassle, you may be best to wait until the full scheme opens.

What did the PM say?

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons today, Theresa May said: "The next phase of testing of the scheme for EU nationals to confirm their status has launched today.

"Having listened to concerns from members and organisations like the 3 Million Group, I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March, the Government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay, and anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed."

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