Ongoing Issues with the EU Settlement Scheme
Author: Karen Kaur
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was launched in March 2019 to register EU citizens as settled residents in the UK. The deadline for most people to apply to the EUSS was 30 June 2021, but eligible applicants may still be able to apply if they have a later deadline or have ‘reasonable grounds’ for their delay in applying.
In this blog, we explore three main ongoing issues with the EUSS.
According to statistics published by the end of June 2023 the EUSS had received 505,000 late applications, of which around 184,000 had led to a grant of pre-settled or settled status, 208,000 had been refused, and 64,000 were still awaiting a decision.
Many people from all walks of life may have failed to register in time simply because they did not know about the scheme: for example, vulnerable groups & children of EU nationals etc.
Pending applications and backlogs
As of June 2023, around 154,000 applications were still awaiting a decision. To date, late applications have not consistently declined over time and remained at more than 15,000 per month throughout 2022 and 2023.
Loss of status
For many the evidence threshold for EUSS (although flexible) is too high – individuals not generating the correct paperwork (e.g., household bills in their own name) struggle to provide proof of residency.
Many are unaware they need to make a further application, and individual deadlines rather than a general one (as previously) may leave many only realising after the fact that their status has expired.
As with most applications, absences from the UK remain one of the reasons people lose their status. People who do not yet have permanent status (i.e., those with pre-settled status) can lose their right to permanent residence if they have absences of more than six months per year. People with permanent/settled status can be absent for up to five years without losing their status.
What rights do EU nationals have whilst they await a decision on their pending application?
EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who make a valid in-time or late EUSS application will have their rights in the UK temporarily protected until they receive the outcome of their EUSS application, including any administrative review or appeal.
Applicants are issued with a Certificate of Application, which can be relied on to evidence their rights.
In addition, the email acknowledging receipt of the applicant’s application explains how prospective employers and landlords can request information about the applicant’s right to work and rent from the Employer or Landlord Checking Services.
For EEA citizens and their family members who applied to the EUSS on or before 30 June 2021 (‘in-time applicants’) are advised not to travel to or from the UK until they have been granted a Certificate of Application that confirms they have made a valid in-time application. If an in-time applicant travels to or from the UK without a Certificate of Application, they may face delays at the border. However, they will be admitted into the UK if it can be proven that their application is pending.
EEA citizens and their family members who applied to the EUSS after the 30 June 2021 (‘late applicants’) must not travel to or from the UK until they are in possession of a Certificate of Application confirming that they have made a valid late application. If a late applicant travels to the UK, they may also be required to show evidence that they were a resident in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.
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