EU citizens in the UK who missed the deadline to apply to the EU settlement scheme won’t face an immediate loss of rights.
The British government announced on Friday that EU nationals who apply late for ‘settled status’ will have their rights protected until a decision has been made on their application.
EU citizens who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 had until 30 June 2021 to apply for the new residence scheme set up to carry forward their rights after the UK withdrawal from the European Union.
More than 6 million people applied for settled status by the deadline, according to data published by the Home Office. Over 5.4 million were granted the right to reside in the UK, of which 2.3 million (43%) received pre-settled status, a legal status that has to be converted into full settlement at a later stage.
Under the withdrawal agreement, EU citizens who have applied on time and are waiting for the decidion have their rights protected until the outcome or the result of an appeal.
“Every day thousands of people are being given status through the hugely successful EU settlement scheme. We’ve worked hard to ensure the vast majority applied before the 30 June deadline and are now supporting those making late applications,” said Immigration Minister Kevin Foster.
The government said it will take a similar approach with joining family members, who will have ”temporary protection” for three months after they arrive in the UK and until the outcome of a settled status application they will make during that period or any possible appeal.
The British government informed the European Commission about the new policy and will provide further details later, the statement continues.
Following a meeting of the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights in June, the European Commission and EU member states expressed concerns about the lack of protection for EU citizens who missed the deadline and for the possible loss of rights in the transition from pre-settled to settled status.
The Commission said the EU did not share “the UK’s interpretation of the withdrawal agreement” and would “carefully consider next steps”.
A report by the House of Lords European Affairs committee found that only 2% of all settled status applications were submitted by people aged over 65, raising fears that large numbers of older EU citizens had not secured their rights.
Charities have been warning that long-term residents might have been left out because of the lack of information or digital skills, or because they wrongly believed they would not need new residence documents.
The government clarified in June that people with ‘reasonable grounds’ for missing the deadline would be given the chance to apply within 28 days from the notice. But between the deadline and the application outcome they would have no legal status.
This would have meant being unable to get a job, rent a house or receive benefits, among other difficulties.
The3million, a group campaigning for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, rejoiced at the government’s announcement.
Without the decision, the loss of the right to work could have led those affected to the “inability to pay the rent, face eviction, no option to get another job or home, no benefits available, i.e. a spiral into destitution,” the group said on Twitter.
Although more needs to be done, the3million continued, now when someone finds out they should have applied, they will be able to make a late application and maintain their rights until a decision is made.
The government advised employers and landlords, who have to check the legal status of the people they hire or rent to, to get in touch with the Employer and Landlord Checking Services if they have a prospective employee or tenant who has confirmation of a late application to the EU settlement scheme.
Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved
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