Item 10b EU Settlement Scheme – Update
Home Office Guidance: Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The UK government has introduced a new form of immigration status to enable eligible European Union citizens, European Economic Area citizens, or Swiss citizens currently living in the UK or resident in the UK before 31 Dec 2020, to stay in the UK after the end of the transitional withdrawal period.
EEA citizens include nationals of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
Applicants will either be awarded:
· Settled - for people with more than five years continuous qualifying residence (Home Office terminology)
· Pre-settled – for people with less than five years qualifying residence.
With only a few exceptions, eligible individuals and their families (including any children in the family or other dependent relatives), will need to apply to this scheme if they want to continue to live in the UK legally and be eligible for public funding - this could include access to NHS/Health Care, housing benefits and education after 30 June 2021. EU/EEA Citizens who did not apply by the 30 June will be in the UK unlawfully from 1 July 2021.
Many of those who have not yet applied may be unaware that they do need to apply or may have practical difficulties in completing the application because they:
· are isolated or unable to get out;
· are unable to access support/advice services which are normally available in the wider community but are currently unavailable because of Covid-19;
· do not have access to the correct ID and/or residence documents;
· do not have access to and/or cannot correctly use a smartphone or tablet that allows them to scan ID documents and complete an online application;
· lack mental capacity;
· have lived in the UK for a long time and do not think the scheme applies to them.
The EU Settlement Scheme deadline has now passed but it is still possible to submit a late application. As of 1 July 2021, there were over six million applications to the scheme. EU/EEA citizens who have secured their immigration status are awarded either pre-settled or settled status. As at the end of June, 53% have received confirmation of settled status and 44% pre-settled. Those in receipt of pre-settled status will need to re-apply when they have reached a five-year period of 'qualifying residence' to convert to settled status.
Non-exhaustive list of reasonable grounds
· Children (including children in care and care leavers)
· Physical or mental capacity and/or care or support needs
· Serious medical condition or significant medical treatment
· Victim of modern slavery
· Abusive or controlling relationship or situation
· Other compelling practical or compassionate reasons.
Key points to note: Revised case worker guidance - EU Settlement Scheme caseworker guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk))
· Applicants need to demonstrate 'reasonable grounds' to submit a late application
· Home Office Grant Funded Organisations are only funded until 30 September – applications need to be submitted without delay
· There are changes to eligibility regarding No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) for EU/EEA citizens who do not apply
· DWP – those in receipt of benefits will face potential suspension at the end of October and termination by the end of November 2021 if they fail to apply
· Communications from the DWP will be sent to those in receipt of benefits from the end of August.
Where to find help to apply
The Home Office has funded over 70 Grant Funded Organisations (GFO's) who are accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). A link to these organisations can be found here: Get help applying to the EU Settlement Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Should any EU/EEA citizen need to make an application they are strongly advised to contact one of these organisations to ask for help. The Home Office has made it easier for paper-based applications to be made, although if possible, the online application route is preferable.
Applicants will receive a Certificate of Application (CoA) that can be shown to an employer or landlord as proof that an application has been made. No-one should be disadvantaged for applying late whilst they are waiting for the outcome.
Accessing benefits and healthcare (and other public funds)
The Home Office has made it clear that anyone who is in receipt of benefits would continue to do so if they applied before 30 June even if they are still waiting for confirmation of their immigration status. However, anyone who fails to apply is highly likely to encounter problems if they are in receipt of benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set out a timeframe of communications to EU/EEA citizens known to them who fail to apply.
What action should be taken
Where it is possible to do so, engage with EU/EEA citizens by highlighting the EU Settlement Scheme and signposting to the Grant Funded Organisations in the first instance if an application needs to be made. It is important to stress the urgency of applying as soon as possible to avoid any financial difficulties should benefits be suspended or terminated.
No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
The NRPF Forum has recently published a very helpful guidance document that explains which categories of EU/EEA citizens may not have recourse to public funds in relation to the EU Settlement Scheme. It explains when a Human Right Assessment will need to be undertaken to avoid homelessness or destitution. A link to the factsheet can be found here: adass-euss-factsheet-v2.pdf
The Home Office EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre can be contacted for advice and assistance on individual cases:
Tel 0300 123 7379 for applicants
Tel 0300 790 0566 for organisations helping others to apply
Information on the EU Settlement scheme is also available in a range of EU/EEA languages- Settled status for EU citizens and their families: translations - GOV.UK together with a range of promotional materials.
Grant Funded Organisations
The Home Office has awarded funding to over 70 organisations nationally to take referrals from Local Authorities and provide direct assistance to help individuals make an application to the Scheme. In the North-West they are:
Citizens Advice Liverpool Email: email@example.com
CVS Cheshire East Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wirral Change Email: email@example.com
The Aire Centre – specialise in Adults who lack mental capacity Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here for Good e-mail email@example.com
Non-exhaustive list of reasonable grounds
The guidance confirms that the reasons why a citizen may have reasonable grounds for applying late to the EUSS are non-exhaustive. The guidance stresses that every case must be considered based on its own set of circumstances. Nevertheless, the guidance provides examples of situations where citizens are likely to be accepted to have reasonable grounds for applying late.
Governing bodies are asked to consider:
· Is there more to be done to communicate with EU/EEA families to ensure they have applied and submitted individual applications for their children?
· Are all staff aware that families can prove they have made applications under the scheme by providing a Certificate of Application (CoA) if they are waiting for an outcome (settled or pre-settled)?
· Are those staff responsible for recruitment aware of the new Right to Work checks (noting the Home Office has updated guidance on 6 August 2021)?
· any additional pressure that schools might face should demand for places increase. Governing bodies should note that of the 6.07 million applications, a percentage of these will be from joining family members (JFM) who will have been granted status under the Family Permit scheme who are not yet resident in the UK.