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Brexit: Settled Status deadline passes

AT THE TIME of writing, the 30 June deadline for EU nationals in the UK to apply for EU Settled Status had just expired. EU nationals who had not completed their application by that date now face losing their right to work, to rent property or to access free NHS treatment. As noted in the June Freelance, deportations and refusals to admit EU national arrivals at UK points of entry have already begun.

Pro-EU march in London, with dinosaur

A pro-EU march in London in 2019, with dinosaur

The government has published a list of cases in which people can still apply. It makes our head hurt. If you know someone who should have applied but has not, please read it with them. The list is "non-exhaustive," which is to say that there may be further grounds for making a delayed application that we don't know about.

As of mid-June, there was a backlog of 400,000 Settled Status applications still awaiting processing, just over two weeks ahead of the deadline. An estimated 10,000 new applications for Settled Status were being made each day at that point.

No extension of the deadline has been granted to reflect the practical reality of many EU nationals who made what they expected to be routine visits to their country of origin only to be stuck there during lockdown and unable to return to the UK and gather documentation needed for their Settled Status applications. Others have access to the "wrong sort of smartphone". (There's a petition calling for an extension of the Settled Status application deadline here.)

Nor has any consideration been given to the coronavirus lockdown leading to "lengthy absences" from the UK which will adversely affect continued eligibility for Settled Status.

Just before the deadline expired, a Home Office spokesman did give assurances that EU nationals in the UK who had applied for Settled Status but not received a decision would be "protected" until a decision is made.

Some EU nationals could face a long wait for a decision. While many earlier applicants got a decision on their application instantly, the process now seems to be taking longer. One EU national who applied in April was told on 29 June - the day before the deadline and almost two months later - that they had been granted full Settled Status. A Romanian academic with the Twitter handle @alexandrabulat showed a screenshot of the GOV.UK application page indicating an hour-long wait even to log on to apply for Settled Status in the hours before the deadline expired.

Democracy denied

Filomena Merola and two other EU nationals were among many living in the UK who found their names had been "crossed through" on the Electoral Register when they turned up to vote at the UK’s last European Parliament elections, which was confirmed as going ahead at short notice in May 2019. They were denied a vote.

Many EU nationals in the UK had filled in the "UC 1" form confirming they would be voting in the UK and not in another EU Member State, only to be told that their forms had been lost or not processed in time. While they have no hope of having the European Parliament election results overturned, they have taken legal action on the grounds of denial of their human rights. The case was initially dismissed by the Divisional Court, but it will now be heard at the High Court in July: see the #DeniedMyVote appeal page and Twitter hashtag.

Tell of your travel troubles

The NUJ's Freelance Office is seeking examples of UK nationals resident in an EU country encountering difficulties covering events within the EU that are "cross border" - covering more than one EU Member State. The current multi-venue UEFA Cup (soccer, m'lud) is a case in point. This year's Tour De France stays within France's borders, but future post-covid Tours may well return to being cross-border events, for example. Please contact freelanceoffice@nuj.org.uk if you have had such trouble.

In Parliament, the Commons Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 29 June questioned Cabinet Office minister Lord Frost on EU visa arrangements for "creative workers". A coalition of creative industries groups appealed for easier visas for cultural industry professionals for both the EU and the US, ahead of the recent G7 summit at St.Ives. That would include journalists, as would the term "creative workers".

Small mercies...

And now the good news! NUJ Paris Branch report that the problems preventing the NUJ's head office directly mailing new NUJ Press Cards to addresses within the EU have now been resolved. Press Cards can now be mailed directly to addresses within the continent of Europe, though they now takes a bit longer to arrive.