Home Office statistics indicate that as of 31 August 2020 the EU Settlement Scheme has received 3,910,100 applications since its debut in 2019. This number includes both online and paper applications.
What is not presented, and worryingly unknown, is how many EU/EEA nationals have not applied under the Scheme, or more generally, are currently present in the UK. What is even more concerning is how many of this unknown population are even aware of the scheme’s existence, let alone their need to secure their immigration status in the UK as a result of Brexit.
There seems to be no concrete way of ascertaining this unknown number, and therefore efforts must be made to promote awareness of the EU Settlement Scheme’s existence, the reason for its existence, and what steps must be taken to apply under the scheme.
There are two concerning elements to consider:
1. A recent study from the Social Market Foundation, which specifically surveyed EU migrant workers in the Cambridgeshire fens, (mostly Lithuanian, Romanian and Bulgarian) showed that over 40% of those surveyed were completely unaware of the scheme’s existence. This indicates that those EU/EEA citizens whose jobs are considered to be ‘lower-skilled’ are more likely to be unaware of the EU Settlement Scheme, let alone what is required to apply under it. What is more concerning than the general unawareness is the study’s indication that those who had arrived in the UK within the last year were less likely to be aware of the scheme than those who had been present in the UK for longer than a year.
2. It would appear that a majority of those who are aware of the scheme, do not fully understand how it operates. For example, many of those who have gained Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme do not understand that this grants the holder five years of leave in the UK, at which point another application under the scheme is required for Settled Status. It would appear that most applicants assume that Pre-Settled Status will automatically roll over to Settled Status.
The combination of these two points lays out a rather worrying outcome over the next five years, and has the potential to cause trouble for both the Home Office and those looking to rely on the EU Settlement Scheme to secure their status in the UK.
Gherson has recently broken down the EU Settlement Scheme into its various parts here: (https://www.gherson.com/blog/deadline-for-eu-nationals-to-switch-to-settlement-scheme)
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.
Paralegal in our General Immigration team