Update on the EU Settlement
Scheme public trials
February 15, 2019
The Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, has written to MPs to update them on the progress of the EU Settlement Scheme voluntary pilot.
Over 100,000 EU citizens living in the UK have successfully applied in the test phases.
Ms Nokes said: ‘I am pleased with the progress we have made in getting the Scheme ready.’
The public trial, which began on January 21 this year, received more than 8,000 applications on its first day.
It is a largely automated process. The Home Office collaborates with HMRC and DWP to share data on residency or employment history.
So far, in 79 per cent of concluded cases, applicants have not needed to supply any further evidence of residence.
There have been not yet been any refusals, but that could be because more complex cases are still pending, or more likely because of the voluntary nature of the scheme.
Only people who have nothing to hide, such as a serious criminal record for instance, will have chosen to register early.
‘Windrush on steroids’
The Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, had previously warned that a mishandling of the Scheme would be like ‘Windrush on steroids’.
She was referring to last year’s scandal in which migrants who had a legal right to live here had difficulty proving their status. This resulted in a loss of the right to work, rent accommodation and an inability to travel.
In some extreme cases, some people were wrongly deported.
In that instance, it is thought that 57,000 people from the Commonwealth were badly treated. There are more than three and a half million EU citizens living in the UK who will need to have completed their registration by 2021. Even a mistake of one in 50 would result in 70,000 people affected.
There is concern in particular for those who do not understand English well enough nor have the confidence to apply online, or those who wrongly assume they do not need to register their children if they were born in this country.
Ms Nokes’ announcement was an attempt to clear up these and other ‘misconceptions’.
She announced that the EU Settlement Scheme will be available on additional mobile devices – previously it had been accessible in the form of an app on Android phones only.
She confirmed we are ‘working constructively with Apple and hope to come to a fix for this issue in the coming months’.
When the scheme is fully live at apply by the end of March, the app will be only one of several available methods.
People will be able to post evidence of their identity, or attend one of the 50 checking locations nationwide.
However, not all of them are open yet, with EU citizens in Cheltenham and Gloucester who were hoping to register having to travel up to 100 miles to their nearest office in Bath.
Given the ongoing apprehension felt by EU nationals living in the UK, positive and reassuring communications from the government’s Immigration Minister will always be welcomed. Let us hope we hear more in the coming days and weeks leading up to Brexit.