Following on from our recent blog on the Public Test Phase of the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme, it has been reported that UK immigration experts have warned UK authorities that the system for registering EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit may lead to a new “Windrush scandal”.
With an estimated 3.5 million EU citizens applying for settled or pre-settled status, experts have warned that thousands could be left without evidence of their legal right to remain in the UK if the applications are not processes quickly and efficiently.
As of Monday 21 January 2019, EU citizens in the UK have been able to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the Home Office pilot scheme. The pilot scheme is open to all EU citizens who hold a valid passport and any non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid Biometric Residence Permit. Citizens of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland will not be eligible at this stage, although they will be able to apply once the scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019.
The criticism comes after a series of bugs were exposed in the phone app, which only works on some Android models, and which is meant to act as the submission and decision portal for the applications.
UK immigration experts and politicians are now concerned that this is creating obstacles for EU citizens in the UK to submit their applications, and that the government is not setting aside enough resources to rectify these technical problems.
Referring to the cut-off date for the settlement scheme, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman, said: “No one seriously believes that the Home Office will be able to grant settled status to everyone who’s eligible within two years. Thousands will be left effectively undocumented and subject to Theresa May’s hostile environment”.
Nevertheless, during the first two test phases of the scheme, there was positive feedback from 77% of applicants and the Home Office stated that 70% of applicants had been granted settled status with the remaining 30% granted pre-settled status.
If you are an EU citizen or a non-EU family member and require assistance or advice as the Home Office scheme continues to develop, 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.