Charities and Fife Council have joined forces to help EU citizens apply for Settled Status in the UK.
The move comes as the deadline to Brexit approaches, with many EU citizens unsure if they will be allowed to stay in the country, or unaware that their immigration status will be changing.
A host of organisations – including Fife Migrants Forum, Fife Centre for Equalities and Citizens Advice and Rights Fife – will be working together to raise awareness about the scheme as well as assisting individuals with their application.
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Any EU citizen living in Fife will have until June 30, 2021 to apply in order to stay in the country if the UK leaves Europe with a deal
If the UK leaves without a deal the deadline will be December 31, 2020.
It’s a profound change, and one that the campaign aims to highlight to ensure no-one falls through the gaps and gets lost in a complex system.
With many migrants working in the agricultural sector in rural areas of the Kingdom the partnership fears that these people and their families, due to their location will be uninformed of the EU Settlement Scheme.
Nina Munday, manager of Fife Centre for Equalities expressed the importance of the partnership.
She said: “It is a positive initiative that was borne out of something not very pleasant, the Brexit argument.
“The settlement scheme is a very complicated process and what we are trying to do is to make it easier for an individual to apply, especially people who need additional support.
“What some people don’t realise is that they have to apply for every single person in the household.
“We are streamlining the process to make it easier for settlement applicants.
“It can be quite a daunting task, but we are here to support people through the process.”
Nina hopes the impact will be minimised by offering such comprehensive support – and stressed that employers have a key role to play.
“A lot of migrants in Fife are very well established,” she said. “They work here, their children attend school here – we hope that the disruption will be as minimal as possible.”
“It will be a lot of work to get out there and engage with employers.
“They need to make sure that staff are able to continue working for them by applying for the settlement status.
“And we are hoping people don’t leave it to the deadline to apply as some applications may be a little more complicated – so the earlier people apply, the sooner they can relax and not have to worry about it.”
Gary Guichan, manager of Fife Migrants Forum is dedicated to supporting EU citizens to stay in Fife.
The organisation has been a go-to for help since launching in 2010.
He said: ““Our aim is to help new residents, who may face a range of issues, to integrate into the community and settle into their new homes.
“Our current focus now is on helping people to complete their application.”
Appointments are available at the forum’s office in The Kirkcaldy Centre – formerly The Postings – with the offer of language and IT support to help people through the process.
Once the paperwork has been completed, successful applicants will either get settled or pre-settled status.
In order to receive settled or pre-settled status they must have started living in the UK by December 31, 2020 or by the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal
To qualify for settled status, applicants must have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period – known as ‘continuous residence’.
If they don’t, they will qualify for pre-settled status.
Applicants can then bid to change this to settled status once they meet the criteria.
If applicants are due to reach five years continuous residence before December 30, 2020 they can choose to wait to apply – that means if their application is successful, they will get settled status without having to apply for pre-settled status first.
After receiving pre-settled status applicants can remain in the UK for a further five years’.
Councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of Fife Council’s community and housing services committee pledged the organisations would do all they could to help
While we have no control over what happens with Brexit, we can make sure that EU citizens living in Fife who want to remain here are given the help and support they need,” she said.
“We will do our best to make sure people are aware of decisions and arrangements that may affect them, as well as advice and support resources.”
Fife Council’s website –fifedirect –has a dedicated area which explains the EU Settlement Scheme and the application process as well as providing links to the UK Government website.
A number of customer service centres, including Kirkcaldy, across Fife will also provide support with EU Settlement applications.
For further information about the Fife EU Settlement Partnership, go to centreforequalities.org.uk/EUreferral.
Fife centre for Equalities (FCE)
Phone: 01592 645310, Text: 07800005834
FCE can also be contacted via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Fife Migrants Forum, Telephone: 01592 642927 or 01592 649748 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF)
Helpline: 0800 916 9847, Mon to Fri 9am-5pm
Telephone: 03451 55 55 55 extension 441242