Vulnerable people risk losing right to stay in UK
25 February 2020
The EU Justice Sub-Committee has written to the Home Office, raising their concern that children in care, and other vulnerable groups, face too many barriers in applying for the right to stay in the UK after Brexit.
- Letter dated 25 February from Lord Morris, Chair of EU Justice Sub-Committee to Kevin Foster MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration, Home Office
- Inquiry: Citizens' Rights
- EU Justice Sub-Committee
The UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme is designed to allow EU nationals to continue to live in the UK after it leaves the EU; a standard application involves the use of smartphone app to verify the applicant's identity and an online form for UK residence and criminality checks. But many vulnerable groups – including children in care, domestic abuse survivors and people who are homeless – are unlikely to have access to the documents they need to prove their identity and residency. They may also not have access to the internet or a smart phone, or even be aware that they need to apply.
The Committee's concerns
After taking evidence earlier this month from organisations who work with vulnerable people, the Committee has written to Immigration Minister Kevin Foster MP with a series of detailed concerns, including:
- The lack of clarity over who is responsible for ensuring applications are made on behalf of children in care (especially as no numbers are held on the number of children who will need to have applications made);
- That those who are unable to evidence five years of residency will only be granted 'pre-settled status', meaning they are unable to access vital benefits and services, including housing benefit and access to domestic violence refuges;
- The lack of certainty over what will happen to those who have not applied by the deadline of 30 June 2021 (especially given the length of time that applications, and obtaining the documents needed to make applications, can take);
- The lack of public information on what exceptions can be made where individuals do not have the necessary documentation to apply; and
- The need for access to specialist advice and support (including legal aid) for those whose applications will not be straightforward.