European criminals who served less than a year in jail will likely be allowed to stay in Britain after Brexit, a Home Office minister admitted today.
Brandon Lewis said the application for ‘settled status’ for eligible EU citizens who want to stay would have a ‘presumption’ in favour of granting them.
He said a criminal record and fraudulent claims were the only restrictions.
And the minister said the current rules – which ban Britain from deporting low-level criminals back to EU countries – would still apply.
European criminals who served less than a year in jail will likely be allowed to stay in Britain after Brexit, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis admitted today
The test, first revealed in a leaked document last month, will be if the individual represents a ‘genuine, present and serious’ threat to security.
Mr Lewis said the new scheme, which is expected to go live in the second half of next year, will be much easier than the system currently in place for those seeking permanent residence.
In evidence to the Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, he said: ‘The way we are looking to develop this is using online processes where somebody spends literally a few minutes online and within a couple of weeks your settled status is dealt with and granted.
‘What we need to confirm is that there’s not a criminal record issue and the person who is applying really has been and is living in the UK.’
Mr Lewis said: ‘We already have in place effectively now, even for non-EU citizens.
‘There is a level of criminality at which you cannot stay in the country and that’s what we are seeking to apply.’
Mr Lewis told there will be a presumption that applications will be accepted.
He added: ‘The only circumstance in which I can foresee somebody not being granted settled status is either the criminal records check shows they are a criminal and if somebody was trying to claim they were an EU citizen in the UK and they are not – ie, a fraudulent application.’
The fee for applying for settled status will not exceed the cost of a British passport, which is currently £72.50 for an adult.
Mr Lewis said: ‘There will be a charge. We’ve not set the price yet.’
His remarks chime with the message delivered by Theresa May (pictured in Paris today with French President Emmanuel Macron) in an open letter to EU nationals
The fee will be reduced, or possibly waived altogether, for those who have already been through the permanent residency process, the committee heard.
Mr Lewis also emphasised that the Government does not want EU citizens to leave. ‘We want them to stay,’ he said.
His remarks chime with the message delivered by Theresa May in an open letter to EU nationals.
She wrote: ‘I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.’
EU citizens who arrive by March 29 2019 and have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for five years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting settled status.
Those who have been in the country for less than five years before the exit date will be able to apply to remain until they have reached the five-year threshold.
In an open letter to EU nationals (pictured) Mrs May said she was ‘proud’ they had chosen to live in the UK
Scrutiny has fallen on the Home Office’s capacity to complete the administrative task of processing potentially more than three million applications from EU citizens and their families.
The department came under fire earlier this year when it emerged around 100 letters were wrongly sent to EU nationals warning them they faced detention and removal from the UK.
The Home Office has launched a recruitment drive to bring in 1,200 extra caseworkers in preparation for the new system.