Home Office in the media

https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/08/30/rebuttal-media-articles-on-the-eu-settlement-scheme/

Media reporting on the EU Settlement Scheme

There are a number of inaccuracies and misconceptions around the EU Settlement Scheme at the moment, which we want to address head on. EU citizens and their families are our friends, neighbours and colleagues and we want them to stay. It’s vital that EU citizens and their families receive clear information on the Scheme through the media. The latest factual information on the Scheme is published in a media factsheet and you can apply for the Scheme on Gov.uk.

Why have you not secured EU citizens’ rights in law?

Some media interviews have suggested that EU citizens’ rights are not secure and that further legislation is needed.

  • The EU Settlement Scheme provides an immigration status in UK law, set out in the Immigration Rules.
  • By being granted status through the EU Settlement Scheme, EU citizens and their families will have the immigration status they need to stay in the UK.
  • EU citizens and their families have until at least 31 December 2020 to make an application.

Why does pre-settled status exist?

  • Settled and pre-settled status reflects the residence rights that EU citizens currently have under EU free movement rules.
  • Under these EU rules, you generally need to reside in a country for 5+ years before acquiring permanent residence there.
  • Those here for less than 5 years can get pre-settled status, which protects their rights to live, work, receive benefits and access services. They can apply for settled status when they get to 5 years.
  • But the UK Government has been more generous with the EU Settlement Scheme because all EU citizens resident here by 31 October can apply – not just those who currently qualify under EU free movement rules.
  • The EU should match our generous offer for UK nationals abroad.

Have there been any refusals?

  • The EU Settlement Scheme monthly statistics show that up to 30 September 2019, there had been two refusals.
  • Our starting position is that we are looking to grant status under the Scheme, but refusals can and will be made where there is evidence of serious or persistent criminality.
  • Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status.
  • Whether someone has pre-settled status or settled status, this means they have been accepted through the Scheme and have secured their rights in UK law.
  • Internal figures show that more than 2.2 million applications have been received and more than 1.8 million granted status. This is based on the latest management information.
  • The latest published statistics to the end of September show that more than 1.8 million applications were received and more than 1.5 million granted status. Figures to the end of October will be published in the next monthly update.

Why have 38% of EU citizens only been granted pre-settled status?

Some media interviews have suggested that pre-settled status is not giving EU citizens the certainty they need. Pre-settled status is usually granted to people who confirm that they been in the country for less than five years. This aligns with EU law whereby someone acquires permanent residence status after five years.

  • EU citizens and their families have plenty of time to apply before the deadline but we are processing complete applications in around five days. They have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.
  • Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status.
  • Both pre-settled status and settled status mean people can work, study, receive healthcare and access benefits and services as they do now.
  • Once EU citizens and their families have five years residence, they can apply for settled status, which gives them leave on an indefinite basis.
  • To be eligible for settled status a person usually needs to have been continuously resident in the UK for five years in a row for at least six months in any 12-month period.

Why do some people need to provide more evidence when applying?

A number of media outlets are reporting on cases of EU citizens who have been in the country for more than five years but have to provide more information as part of their application.

  • Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status. We are looking to grant everyone the status they are eligible for.
  • When applying, the system checks government data to see if it can confirm how long they have been in the UK. We use all the names provided in the application, including those that are on their passport or ID card and any other names that they tell us about.
  • This makes it quicker for most people to apply. In testing, around three quarters of applicants did not need to provide more information but sometimes those automatic checks might not match all records straightaway and we may need more evidence before we grant someone settled status.
  • This could be for a variety of reasons and it does not mean that applicants are refused settled status. It simply means we need more information from the applicant before we can grant it. This evidence can be as little as phone bills, utility bills, TV licence bills as well as letters from employers, doctors, schools, or charities, bank statements, or mortgage agreements.
  • People should only ever be given pre-settled status when they confirm that it’s what they qualify for and never without being given the opportunity to demonstrate that they qualify for settled status.
  • If an individual confirms they would like to apply for settled status but needs to submit further information, caseworkers always contact the applicant to discuss if any further evidence is needed.

Why don’t you just give EU citizens their rights without making them apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

There are a lot of questions about why the government is making people apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. There are calls for EU citizens to simply be granted their rights without having to apply through the EU Settlement Scheme, which is known as a declaratory system.

  • In developing the EU Settlement Scheme, it has been at the forefront of our thinking to ensure that the experiences of the Windrush generation are not repeated. One of the key lessons we have learnt from Windrush is that declaratory systems do not work.
  • The EU Settlement Scheme means that, whether in four or 40 years’ time, EU citizens and their children will have the evidence that they need to continue accessing and benefiting from services in the UK as they do now.
  • Free movement is ending and everyone entering the UK will need a form of UK immigration status. Put simply - EU citizens who are in the UK before we leave the EU will have different – enhanced - rights compared to those who come afterwards.
  • It is essential, therefore, that EU citizens have the evidence that they can use to demonstrate their rights in the UK

What about the approach of the Home Office?

A number of outlets have also questioned the Home Office’s approach to granting status through the Scheme.

  • The approach being taken by EU Settlement Scheme caseworkers is that they are always looking to grant status, not to refuse it.
  • We have over 1,500 Home Office staff working on the Scheme including handling calls and emails in the Settlement Resolution Centre, helping people apply.
  • There is a wide range of support available on the phone, email and in person for people making applications. This includes funding 57 organisations with up to £9m from the Home Office to help vulnerable EU citizens to apply. There are also 300 assisted digital locations across the UK where people can attend in person if they have limited computer skills or confidence with the online process.
  • A postcode checker to find support in your local area for scanning documents or through organisations funded by the Home Office is on Gov.uk.

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