The UK Home Office had launched the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) more than three years ago on 21st January 2019. It was launched to prepare for Brexit. Since then, the government has received and processed thousands of applications, enabling the applicant to receive settled and pre-settled statuses. Data shows that EUS applications received since 30th June 2021 have been filed by late applicants, people moving from pre-settled to settled status, and joining family members.

Let’s explore the latest EU Settlement Scheme news, and the issues applicants are experiencing with their applications in 2022!

Is the EU Settlement Scheme Reaching the Most Vulnerable?

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Neal, presented a EUSS inspection report to Parliament in January 2022. Titled “A Further Inspection of the EU Settlement Scheme,” this report focused on how the Home Office has provided the most vulnerable access to the EUSS. The inspection report highlights that more than 257,000 vulnerable people have received grant-funded organization support to create their EU applications.

However, concerns remain that some individuals eligible to apply might not gain the protected immigration status they are entitled to because of factors outside their control. These people include individuals with severe health conditions, domestic abuse victims, trafficking victims, vulnerable children, and those without a fixed address. Many EUSS refusals stemmed from people failing to provide sufficient evidence of their residency or relationship.

The inspection report recommends the Home Office should:

  • Collect, collate, and use vulnerability and protected characteristic data from diverse sources to identify trends and issues and use that insight into formulating a workable EUSS strategy to support the most vulnerable.
  • Offer refresher training to caseworkers assessing EUSS applications involving minors and individuals under 21
  • Expedite the work to identify eligible adults with the help of third parties, such as local authorities, social and healthcare trusts, Probation Service, and HM Prisons.

Lack of Timely Help from the Home Office

A significant point of concern in recent times is the lack of timely help from the Home Office, preventing people eligible for the scheme from gaining their settled or pre-settled statuses. The Home Office has declared that only 44% of the calls made to the EUSS helpline are reaching caseworkers.

It’s alarming since the EU settlement scheme telephone helpline is the main point of contact for people with questions regarding the application process and the scheme. Many individuals who call the helpline receive an automated message that details there is no space left in the call cue and that their call will be disconnected.

It has left many prospective applicants unsure about the application process and how to go about it. Moreover, since they are struggling with their applications, they also have to face the issues that come with their right to work, claim benefits, live in a rented home, and more.

The High Level of Demand Has Increased the AR Period

Lastly, many people face odd refusals that they can contest based on clear evidence. These individuals apply for an Administrative Review (AR,) which is essentially a request to the Home Office to review its decision. AR applications are supposed to be processed within 28 days. However, due to the increase in demand, these applications are taking three months and longer to be processed. Even though a pending AR ensures their rights are secure, the applicants still face many uncertainties, especially if they have to leave the country for some unavoidable reasons.

The Bottom Line

Even though the EU Settlement Scheme is a significant effort by the Home Office, more work needs to be done for the scheme to reach the most vulnerable. The Home Office needs to thoroughly review its strategy and take measures to reach individuals who risk losing everything without the scheme.