Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, today challenged the Home Secretary over the practicality of the residency requirement for EU citizens who the Government intends to force to apply for Settled Status as the UK leaves the EU. The current residency rules require EU citizens to have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years, with no fewer than six months being spent in the UK in each of those 12 month periods.
Mr. Carmichael raised this issue shortly before the Prime Minister announced that the Government would no longer be charging EU citizens applying for settled status, removing the £65 charge that the Government had applied.
Raising the issue of those who work offshore but who have their homes in the UK, Mr. Carmichael said:
“Can the Home Secretary tell us how the Settled Status Scheme will work for EU Nationals ordinarily resident in the UK, but working in the offshore Oil and Gas industry or the Merchant Marine? Can he confirm that, the fact that many of these people will work for more than six months in the year outside the 12 mile limit, will not be a barrier to their inclusion in the settled status scheme.”
Responding, the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, said:
“One of the reasons we have been piloting this scheme is to look at any issues which may come up at the full launch in April. The recent pilot has just closed, and we have just published results on that today, and it is precisely to look at the issues such as those that the Rt. Hon. Gentleman has brought up and we will be looking to that carefully.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“I think it is outrageous to force people to apply for the right to stay in their home and community. While it is welcome that the charge has been removed, the Government should now reconsider the entire process and find a better way to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here.
“A more straightforward answer from the Home Secretary might have been to say “I don’t know – we haven’t considered that.”
“If the Government is committed to proceeding with the Settled Status then I am deeply concerned about the unintended consequences. It clearly requires much more work before it will be fit for purpose. I was able to raise a relatively straightforward situation which may impact many EU citizens, and the Government clearly had not anticipated such a situation. The Government needs to think this policy through very carefully before they proceed.
“Many EU citizens have made their lives in the UK and contribute to our society and economy. Many will worry that they may be forced to leave their homes, and the Government must take action to ensure that this will not happen.”