Dear European Union citizens living in Scotland,
I wrote to you last in October 2019 at a time of considerable uncertainty leading up to our exit from the European Union. Since then all of us in Scotland and across Europe and the wider world have faced the huge challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to thank you for all you have done during this time as we have faced, and continue to face, this challenge together. You are of course our friends, family and neighbours in a year when the importance of these relationships cannot be overstated.
I believe that EU citizens in Scotland should not need to apply to protect the rights you already have to live, work and study here, but nevertheless there is a requirement, however unwelcome, to apply to the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.
Thankfully, many of you have now applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and secured your status. Yet many of you are still to secure your status, and I must sadly reiterate that it remains critical that everyone who wishes to stay in Scotland must complete an application by the 30th June 2021. Any EU citizen who is resident in Scotland before the 31st December 2020 is eligible to apply, and I encourage you to do so.
The Scottish Government’s Stay in Scotland campaign provides practical guidance and support to help you protect your rights and complete your application to the UK EU Settlement Scheme.
Working with our partners we fund an EU Citizens’ Support Service with a telephone helpline which is free to use and staffed by qualified advisors. In addition we part-fund a network of advisors in Citizen Advice Bureaux throughout Scotland.
Accurate information about your rights is crucial. That’s why the Scottish Government commissioned the human rights charity, JustRight Scotland, to produce a series of accessible guidance notes on EU citizens’ rights. These are available in six languages and will help you better understand your rights to healthcare, housing, banking and other services in Scotland after the 31st December.
You can find information on all the different support available to you at mygov.scot/stayinscotland, or contact the helpline for free on 0800 916 9847.
In light of the devastating impact of the pandemic, I hope that these resources will help you understand and exercise your rights. Please use them and encourage others to do the same. My message to you remains the same: Scotland is your home, you are welcome here, we want you to stay.
First Minister of Scotland