As part of the UK’s preparations for withdrawal from the EU, earlier this year the UK government introduced the “EU Settled Status” Scheme in order to secure the rights of EU nationals already residing in the UK. The scheme was intended to involve an online-only application process, where the applicant would need to upload the relevant evidence in support of their application online and not be required to send in any original documents directly to the Home Office. Following a successful application, the applicant would have an electronic-only proof of their UK immigration status – no hard copy documents would be issued to evidence this unless the applicant is not an EEA national and does not have a biometric residence card already. The government also stated that should an applicant hold the right of Permanent Residence in the UK under EU law, they would be able to convert this to “Settled Status” seamlessly.
However, the Home Office requires certain non-EEA or Swiss nationals to provide their passports as part of the application process in order to verify their identity. Furthermore, it has recently transpired that certain applicants will also be required to apply using a paper application form. This requirement extends primarily to family members of British nationals who benefit from EEA rights, such as a spouse of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as such before obtaining British citizenship. It may also be required for certain vulnerable EEA nationals.
The problem with this is that the paper application forms have not been made available online and, in this firm’s recent experience, it can be difficult to obtain a copy of the form from the Home Office. The relevant form must be requested from the Home Office and it will be issued on a case-by-case basis. In some circumstances it may take over a week to obtain the relevant form required for a valid application. Non-EEA nationals who hold the right of Permanent Residence in the UK, but who fall under the few narrow exceptions for applicants who are required to submit a paper application forms will also be unable to submit their applications online.
It is worth noting that the majority of people who are required to apply using a paper application form are those who need a regular immigration status and whose residence in the UK may be jeopardised if an issue arises with their applications. Furthermore, the relevant GOV.UK website does not clarify sufficiently that paper application forms may be required for certain applications (nor does it even reference the paper application forms). It is clear that the new and seamless application process under the “Settled Status” scheme will suffer from the same administrative inefficiencies that have plagued the Home Office in recent years.
If you would like any advice or assistance in respect of your Settled Status application, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.