Settled Status – A Positive Announcement for Non-UK EU Vet Professionals
There has been good news recently regarding the fate of EU veterinary professionals living and working in the UK, and those who want to move here.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced that when Brexit happens, the three million EU citizens living here will simply continue to live and work here as normal. After five years of continuous residence, they will receive ‘settled status’.
What is ‘settled status’?
For the purposes of everyday life, residents with settled status have the same rights to work in the UK as British citizens. They will also have the same rights to the UK state pension system and to NHS care. All public services will be open to them as they are to all other British citizens. Currently, to be eligible, an individual must be resident in the UK and not absent for more than five consecutive years. Until the issue of ‘freedom of movement’ is clarified and set down, settled status will only be applicable for EU nationals who want to reside permanently and consistently in the UK. EU workers keen to take up the opportunity to move to the UK are free to move here by December 31st, 2020, during the ‘grace period’ following Brexit. During this time, they can apply for settled status.
Why is it good news?
This is great news for the veterinary industry which relies heavily on the skills, experience, knowledge and passion EU professionals bring. The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees qualifications for highly regulated workers including veterinary professionals will still be recognised and accepted within the UK. What this new declaration does is ensure veterinary professionals graduating from institutions in the EU, or looking to move to the UK to practice medicine in the UK will not have to face lengthy or prohibitive red-tap processes in order to make the move. Furthermore, their family members will be entitled to apply for settled status too.
Veterinary governing and regulatory bodies, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have both stressed, loud and long, the importance of the continued right of non-UK EU vets to our economy. Indeed, the BVA submitted a consultation to the House of Lords which detailed the pivotal role played by non-UK EU vets: only around 5% of UK veterinary graduates work in public health. 95% of UK veterinary public health workers arrive from the EU. In light of these statistics, EU veterinary professionals clearly have a uniquely influential role in the UK’s trading prospects. Their contribution to the maintenance of superior standards in these sectors cannot be underplayed and, as such, the ‘settled status’ announcement takes on increased significance.
Citizens of EU countries looking to move to the UK must be resident here by December 2020 to be eligible to apply for settled status. The deadline for applications is the 21st June, the likely date ending the transition period of the UK completing Brexit. Anyone who already has a permanent residence document or has previously been given indefinite leave to remain can opt to switch to settled status free of charge. For those applying for settled status without either of these documents, an application fee of £65 (or £32.50 for under 16s) will apply. Anyone who has been granted ‘pre-settled’ status will not incur additional fees.
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