I know there have concerns about the future of EU citizens in the UK. While it is not for me to comment on any individual case, I can assure you that the EU Settlement Scheme protects EU citizens' rights and provides those citizens with an immigration status under UK law.
The new system for obtaining settled status is streamlined, user-friendly and draws on existing government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence. Applications will not be refused on minor technicalities without the applicant being given the opportunity to rectify them, and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate. As a result, the Home Office has said it expects the vast majority of cases to be granted, with refusals most likely to be because of serious criminality or if the person is not an EU citizen (or family member). Once obtained, people will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing their settled status.
As you will be aware, 31 December 2020 was the deadline for EEA citizens to be resident in the UK to be eligible for the settled status scheme. EEA citizens were eligible to submit an application until 30 June 2021. I understand there are concerns regarding this deadline. However, it is important to consider that the scheme was launched in 2019 and the latest statistics show that there have been 6.02 million applications with 5.45 million concluded applications. I was pleased to see that 95 per cent of concluded applications have resulted in settled or pre-settled status. I know that a wide range of support is available online and over the telephone if needed and the Government is funding 72 organisations across the UK to ensure no one gets left behind.
You may be reassured that there will be instances were applications made after 30 June 2021 will be accepted. In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreement, there remains scope, indefinitely, for a person eligible for status under the EUSS to make a late application to the scheme where there are reasonable grounds for their failure to meet the deadline applicable to them. I welcome the fact that Ministers have now published guidance for caseworkers on reasonable grounds for making a late application, which includes where a local authority has failed to make an application on behalf of a child in their care and where a parent or legal guardian failed to apply on behalf of someone aged under 18. I also know that the Government will take a compassionate approach where people need to make a late application. For instance, people who could have applied but have missed the deadline will be granted 28 days to make a late application.
I was particularly glad that the Government has made clear that the guidance, which reflects engagement with stakeholders on this issue, is not exhaustive and all cases will be considered on a flexible and pragmatic basis in light of their particular circumstances. The guidance can be found at the following link - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-casewor…