Foreign Office to fund projects to help UK nationals apply for EU residence – but not until after Brexit

Written by Beckie Smith on 24 September 2019 in News

Organisations won't be told if their grant applications are through to the next stage until November

German border officials: Germany is planning to give UK nationals three months to apply for residence. Photo:  Christian Charisius/DPA/PA 

The Foreign Office is preparing to hand out up to £3m in grants to help UK nationals living in EU countries apply for the right to continue living there after Brexit.

The department has invited voluntary and community organisations to apply for grants of £60,000 or more, which they will use to help people register or apply for residence in EU or EEA states. It will give out £1.5m this financial year, and a further £1.5m in 2020-21 if the programme proves successful.

The FCO announced plans for the UK National Support Fund at the end of last month. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said at the time that the government wanted to “help UK nationals living across the EU to be fully ready for Brexit” on October 31.


But a call for applications yesterday – four days behind schedule – said organisations that bid for funding will not receive it until after Brexit.

Applications for the bids are open until 24 October, a week before the UK is set to leave the EU, and organisations will be told in November if their project proposals has been selected for further consideration.

UK nationals living in EU or EEA states will need to apply for residential status within a set timeframe to continue living there after Brexit. The deadline to apply varies by state. In a no-deal scenario, UK nationals in France will have six months to apply for a residence card, while Germany is planning to offer only a three-month grace period.

But despite campaigns by the UK and other governments targeting UK nationals living in the EU, the FCO said some “will be at risk of failing to register and will require extra support in being aware of and/or applying for a residency status”.

Organisations can bid for funding to give out information and advice; help people to understand the application process; or provide equipment people need to complete the registration process. “It is essential that the support provided via the grants scheme leads to [UK nationals] undertaking the registration/residency application process,” the Foreign Office said.

The Foreign Office said some groups of people are likely to need extra support applying for residence, including people with limited digital skills, those in hard-to-reach or remote areas, people with serious health conditions, children and some elderly people.

People who have experienced domestic abuse, modern slavery or human trafficking, and those without a fixed address, may also require extra help, the department said.

There are estimated to be more than a million UK nationals living in EU or EFTA states.

To apply, bidders must submit a brief description of their organisation, the area of the EU where they would operate and the services they plan to offer.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith.

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Submitted on 27 September, 2019 - 13:52
Civil Service World - Expat Post Brexit funding 27 September 2019 14:45 The difficulty lies in targeting appropriate organisations dedicated to discovering and supporting expats. As the estimate of numbers is approximative (the figure is 'about' a million, possibly, determines the Government) it goes to show there is no actual register of Expat British People. This could have been facilitated if the promise of successive governments had been kept - that is, to enable all UK citizens living abroad to be able to register to vote. In fact, many were excluded from doing so because (as in the case of 2 of my children) they hadn't registered to vote in the UK before leaving to live abroad, or because they weren't of an age to vote then, or because they've lived most of their lives in the EU, or because they have been living as seasonal workers, or travelling to more than one country for their job, or any one of a million reasons. Becoming residents requires a great deal of paperwork, not always forthcoming or easily obtained, and the fee for a resident card, or for naturalisation is beyond some who don't have a regular income. Also the rules have changed post Brexit. Under EU Law, citizens could show, after 5 years' continual residence, that they were eligible for a permanent resident card by means of existing documents. Since the UK has required a minimum income (18000 pounds sterling pa) for an EU resident's 'settled status', France, for example, now requires independent income equivalent to the SMIC, minimum wage, or at least RSA, social security level, of around 5000€ PA. Many UK citizens are living at subsistance level and would fear applying for residential status in case of reject. the gap in revenue in Europe is enormous, many live abroad with minimum means, although media suppose that UK expats are all rich and live in Spain. There is no central body that deals with expat problems; individuals offering this service expect to be paid. the publications offering advice in this area are also expensive. Conditions, such as showing health insurance, are not easy to comply with, as elderly and disabled are heavily penalised in this area, and it is not clear if the present 'carte vitale' universal health care scheme available to EU citizens on low income (CMU) will continue to be available to the UK citizens after Brexit. I invite you to contact me for more information on all the above, together with suggestions how best to implement the necessary advice forums and invitations to apply for support by electronic means and to outreach towards those without access to this possibility.

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