EU Settlement Scheme delays causing concern
The deadline for Pre-Settled Status and Settled Status applications is 30 June 2021.
As a result of Brexit, applications for Pre-Settled Status and Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme (“the Scheme”) have been received by the Home Office from the inception of the Scheme on 29 March 2019.
The Scheme permits applications from EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who wish to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. If granted, the applicant will be able to remain living and working in the UK and have the right to access housing, healthcare, benefits and education.
However, the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (“IMA”) has reported significant delays in the Home Office’s approval of applications, with in excess of 320,000 applicants outstanding. The deadline for application to the Scheme is 30 June 2021. The IMA is warning that applicants who are without a certificate of application acknowledging their application on 1 July 2021 may not be viewed as legal residents. The implications of this are significant and can include the failure of immigration status checks.
Whilst the Home Office has issued an assurance that those applicants who have not received a decision by 30 June 2021 will have their rights protected until a decision is made, IMA remain concerned that this “grey” area may not be as straightforward as suggested by the Home Office.
There can be no doubt that any EU or EEA citizen who wishes to remain in the UK beyond 30 June 2021 must take immediate steps to apply to the Scheme. Whilst the Scheme has been amended to permit late applications beyond the June deadline, these will be assessed on an individual basis and there is no guarantee that any late applications will be granted.
Employers are already under pressure with immigration checks having to be undertaken to fulfil their responsibility of preventing illegal working. The Home Office delays could lead to potential employees failing immigration status checks resulting in the loss of employment as employers must exercise caution to avoid any potential breach of the law and ensure they have a statutory excuse.