The EU Settled Status Scheme has been fully rolled out and thousands of Applicants have already used the new service. The Scheme is mandatory for EU nationals and their family members once the UK has officially left the EU. However, despite praise for the Scheme from the Home Office, professionals in the field and MPs alike have criticised the EU Settled Status Scheme and warned that it will cause another Windrush type scandal by exploiting vulnerable people. There are calls for a serious overhaul of the system with suggestions that EU nationals who were resident in the UK before the 2016 referendum can remain in the UK without the need to make an application. For the time being though, the only two options are making an application under the current EEA Regulations or applying under the new Scheme. Contacting our EU Immigration Team can assist in deciding which application to make and the necessary requirements.
What is the EU Settled Status Scheme?
As a result of the Brexit vote, the relationship that the UK has with EEA countries will change. Whilst the UK Government and Home Office have continuously emphasised that the rights of EU nationals and their family members in the UK will not change, there will now a legal requirement for them to prove their status in the UK post-Brexit.
EU nationals and their family members who have been in the UK for 5 years and meet all of the necessary requirements will be granted Settled Status. Those who have been in the UK for less than 5 years will be granted Pre-Settled Status until they get to 5 years and will then be eligible for Settled Status. EU nationals and their family members who have a registration certificate, residence card or permanent residence in the UK will need to convert their document under the Settled Status Scheme.
The EU Settled Status Scheme is now open and the earliest deadline for Applicants to apply is 31 December 2020. There is no Home Office fee for EU Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status applications. Applicants will need to prove their identity and residence in the UK and can do this by using the smartphone app, online or by sending the documents in the post. The Settled Status Scheme allows Applicants to work in the UK, use the NHS, enrol in education or continue studying, access public funds such as benefits and pensions (if eligible) and travel in and out of the UK.
What are the issues with the EU Settled Status Scheme?
The Home Affairs Select Committee recently highlighted several issues with the EU Settled Status Scheme, despite the Home office hailing it as a success. According to a Home Office report, during the pilot phase of the Scheme, 95% of Applicants were successfully able to prove their identity using the smartphone app. Customer satisfaction was also reported to be mostly positive. However, Immigration professionals and MPs alike have expressed many concerns over the EU Settled Status Scheme. One primary concern is that many EU citizens may not apply under the new Scheme as they do not know about it, do not realise it applies to them, or do not realise that it is mandatory. Reports by British Future and the Migration Observatory have highlighted groups at particular risk including:
- the children of EU citizens in the UK (727,000);
- EU citizens born in the UK but not registered as British citizens (323,000);
- Elderly EU citizens who are long-term residents in the UK (284,000 EU citizens resident in the UK for more than 20 years);
- EU citizens already granted permanent residence (401,519 between 2004 and 2017) who may be unaware they will need to reapply;
- Non-EU family members of EU citizens (283,000 permits issued 2005–2016);
- Those with limited literacy or fluency in English (288,000 EU citizens reported not speaking English well or at all in the 2011 census);
- Isolated individuals or groups with fewer social links;
- Derivative Rights of Residence holders;
- Those who choose not to apply because they fear rejection. This could include the 85,000 people previously refused permanent residence, those with minor or spent criminal convictions, those who have been homeless at some point in their time in the UK and those involved in cash-in-hand work.
There are serious concerns that the Government and Home Office have not learned from the Windrush Scandal and EU nationals will find themselves in a similar position to those Commonwealth citizens who were unable to prove their right to be in the UK.
Can I still apply under the current EEA routes?
Applicants are still able to apply for a registration certificate, residence card or permanent residence card and the process for doing so is still the same. However, these documents will not be valid after 3 December 2020 but some may argue it is an easier process compared to the new Settlement Scheme.
LEXVISA Immigration Lawyers London have a high success rate in preparing EEA and family based applications. Our experienced solicitors have years of practical knowledge when it comes to preparing applications under the EEA Regulations and has an understanding the comprehensive range of documents that the Home Office requires to make a timely decision on the application. Therefore EU nationals and their family members should contact us to arrange an initial consultation to discuss how we can assist in applying for the necessary residence documents.
Using Legal Representation to submit an EEA application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit an EEA application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your EEA application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application under the EEA Regulations meets the relevant rules.
Successful EEA applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your EEA application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your EEA application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to a successful application under the EEA Regulations. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.