The EU Settlement Scheme was set up by the Home Office to regularise the UK immigration status of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, who were resident in the UK prior to the end of the Brexit Transition Period.
The deadline for applications under this scheme is 30 June 2021. This means that from 1 July 2021, all those EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who continue to reside in the UK and who have not obtained status under the EU Settlement Scheme will be in the UK unlawfully.
Concern has been voiced about how the Home Office will respond to those who miss the 30 June 2021 deadline, and what concessions may be provided to those who do so. In response to such concerns, the Home Office has updated their policy guidance addressing this point, outlining that although applications can be submitted after the deadline, applicants will need to demonstrate “reasonable grounds” for applying out of time.
As the EU Settlement Scheme requires those with less than 5 years of continuous residence to apply again under the scheme for Settled Status once they reach 5 years of continuous residence, the above “reasonable grounds” will also apply to those who fail to upgrade their status from Pre-Settled to Settled Status, before their Pre-Settled status expires.
At the beginning of this month, the Home Office provided further clarification as to what constitutes such reasonable grounds in the form of a non-exhaustive list, which included:
- Children, whose parent or legal guardian failed to apply for them under the EU Settlement Scheme;
- Physical or mental capacity, which hinders the making of an application;
- Serious medical conditions or treatment.
The Home Office guidance provides several further examples, and provides a clause covering “other compelling practical or compassionate reasons”, which allows scope for those individuals who may miss the deadline due to reasons beyond their control and which are not specified by the guidance.
In short, there will be scope for late applications under the EU Settlement Scheme, however the “reasonable grounds” for late submission must be reviewed carefully in each case.
The Home Office further suggests that they will be flexible for an initial period immediately after the deadline, instructing caseworkers to give the ‘benefit of the doubt’ when considering all information provided with a late application. It is unclear how long this flexibility will last, as reference is only made to an ‘initial period’ after the deadline.
This is positive and welcome news, and whilst the specifics of this guidance are still to be clarified, it is encouraging to note that the Home Office is aware and preparing for the inevitable late applications which will be submitted under the scheme.
It should be noted that EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, residing in the UK prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), who have not yet applied for status under the EU Settlement Scheme, should make every effort to do so before the 30 June 2021 deadline, as this updated information does not represent an extension of the deadline, or even a relaxation of the rules, but merely an acceptance by the Home Office that there may be those who may be unable to apply under the scheme in time.
We strongly recommend all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who are eligible to apply to do so at the earliest opportunity.
Gherson has a wealth of experience advising clients applying under the EU Settlement Scheme. If you have any questions or doubts regarding your immigration matters, please contact us for advice and to discuss your specific circumstances.
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.
Trainee Solicitor in our General Immigration Team