Online only

Settled Status applicants’ problems with work, housing, passports...

ISSUES WITH the EU Settled Status Scheme are already leaving many EU nationals unable to get work or accommodation in the UK. While the issue is being portrayed as a "glitch", it's an oversight in the design of the system that seems fairly obvious and could easily have been avoided.

Those with Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status get a digital "share code" that proves their right to live and work in the UK. They have no physical document such as a passport stamp or identity card: so they are entirely reliant on their digital share code being visible on request.

Pre-Settled Status is for those who've been in the UK less than five years, Settled Status is for those in the UK for five years or more.

Some 2.3 million applicants received Pre-Settled Status - that is over 43 per cent of the over 6 million who applied for Settled Status by the deadline. Some people applied for Pre-Settled Status rather than full-on Settled Status in error, because the app seems to default to Pre-Settled Status, with applicants actively having to choose full Settled Status.

Once they make an application to upgrade from Pre-Settled to full Settled Status, EU nationals get a digital Certificate of Application. Unfortunately, their existing Pre-Settled Status with its share code is no longer visible while their application for full Settled Status is being handled.

The Certificate of Application confers work and residency rights for only six months. Pre-Settled Status is, in contrast, valid for five years. There is already at least one reported case of an EU national no longer being able to apply for a mortgage because their Pre-Settled Status granting them five years' residency was no longer visible online, having been replaced by a Certificate of Application valid for only six months.

Late applications and rejections

Some 80,000 EU nationals who applied for Settled Status just before the 30 June deadline and were rejected can no longer produce evidence of their right to live and work in the UK, according to City A.M.. This report quotes law firm Bates Wells as predicting that many of these will be unable to get work or housing. Some may even face deportation. According to Bates Wells, many of these applications were rejected "in error". In theory, applicants can apply again, but the Home Office is not even returning their calls due to a backlog caused by the "unexpected" (read: entirely predictable) volume of Settled Status applications before the deadline.

See the complicated list of "reasonable grounds" for missing the deadline. EU nationals can still apply if they can show that these apply to them. The UK has extended the deadline for Settled Status applicants who have reasonable grounds. The clear-as-mud notice, though, appeared to give applicants only another 28 days from when it was issued it June, reports Europe Street News. If true, the extension may have expired already.

Job interviews

The UK government announced in early August that it would protect the rights of EU nationals who apply for Settled Status until "a decision" had been made on their application. It didn't appear to mention appeals. Back in May, unnoticed at the time (sorry!) the UK government also appeared to clarify to Parliament that EU nationals turning up at the border would not be refused entry or deported if they were in the UK for a job interview. This followed some high profile detentions and deportations of EU nationals at airports.

Action on citizens’ rights

The EU is deeply unimpressed with the UK's treatment of its citizens. Back in May, it stated that it "calls on the UK to respect the principle of non-discrimination among member states and the rights of EU citizens".

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens' Rights Agreements, (IMA) set up after the UK withdrawal, said it was in talks with the Home Office amid reports of concerns over the Settled Status application process.

EU nationals who feel their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are being infringed should contact the IMA via complaints.ima-citizensrights.org.uk/support/ima-complaint.

Passport renewal woes

EU nationals (and other dual nationals) who obtain UK citizenship will encounter another irritant when renewing their UK passport. They now have to send in their existing passport to HM Passports Office for it to be checked, to ensure the name on their other passport is identical to that on their UK passport.

No, you can't drop off your other passport at a passport office: you have to trust it to Royal Mail or whatever courier service HM Passports are using, as well as negotiating its safe return. This isn't made clear on UK passport renewal applications, so most people affected won't find out until after they've sent in their old UK passport as part of their application for renewal. Applications will not be processed until they receive your other passport. Your precious EU passport will be with HM Passports for at least a week. This seems to be due to a little-known regulation that came in out of the blue a couple of years ago. The Freelance is trying to find out more.

More grace periods end

Brexit is for from done. Grace periods on a whole bunch of regulations come to an end on 1 January 2022, covering import documentation, border checks, physical checks on meat, fish eggs and dairy and "conformity marking" on imports. This is expected to considerably exacerbate supply chain problems already appearing, and will affect movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as well.