The IMA protects the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens, and the rights of their family members, living in the UK. We monitor UK public bodies to make sure they uphold the rights of EU citizens and to identify any systemic issues. We have the powers to launch inquiries and bring legal action, if appropriate, against bodies that don’t uphold the rights of EU citizens.
The IMA will consider any complaints where the treatment of an EU or EEA EFTA citizen, or their family member, by a UK public body falls short of the UK’s commitments. People may feel they’re being discriminated against in cases relating to housing, health care, education, immigration, justice or more.
A public body is any organisation or institution that provides a public service, such as councils, hospitals, job centres, schools and police stations.
The IMA upholds the rights of citizens from the 27 EU countries and those from the EEA EFTA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement reached with the EU and the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement reached with the EEA EFTA nations.
The IMA does not have the power to uphold the rights of Swiss citizens (unless they also fall within the remit of the Withdrawal Agreement or EEA EFTA Separation Agreement, for example as a family member of an EU or EEA EFTA citizen living in the UK) as the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement, reached between the UK and Switzerland, does not include a requirement for an independent body.
Citizens’ rights are set out in Part II of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Part II of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.
The citizens’ rights that the IMA covers are set out in Part II of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Part II of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.
Rights agreements between the UK and EU cover four areas:
The right to equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of nationality apply to all these rights.
The Withdrawal Agreement means EU citizens and their family members living in the UK at the end of the transition period can stay in the UK. EU citizens and their family members need to apply for a new residence status through the EU Settlement Scheme. The Withdrawal Agreement provides a “grace period” for applications to be submitted and the deadline must be at least six months after the end of the transition period. In the UK, the deadline was 30 June 2021.
Citizens who do not have settled or pre-settled status after that time will not be covered by the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, apart from in some very limited and exceptional circumstances.
The Withdrawal Agreement and EEA EFTA Separation Agreement explain who is a family member. For example it includes a spouse, registered partner or direct relatives in the ascending line. This could include individuals who are EU or EEA EFTA citizens but equally, it could include a family member who is not an EU or EEA EFTA citizen (often referred to as a ‘third country national’).
Citizens can choose to make a complaint with assistance from a representative organisation if they do not feel personally comfortable submitting their complaint in English.
Personal details will not be shared without prior consent.
An example of where the IMA may wish to share personal details shared with us could be to enable the public body complained about to identify an issue of concern. It could also arise where the IMA takes legal action against a public body in court. However, any such sharing will be done with the consent of the individual concerned and only where it is necessary to do so.
The IMA exists to tackle systemic issues, practices and behaviours that cause widespread or persistent infringements of rights, for the benefit of the whole EU community in the UK. If you feel any government or public service has treated you unfairly, it is important that you complain to the IMA. If we receive many complaints about a certain issue it’s more likely that there’s a big problem that needs resolving. However, you should also raise your complaint with existing organisations that consider individual cases.
The recognition of professional qualifications is included in Part 2 of the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements. However, it only covers those qualifications that had been recognised before 31 December 2020, or in the course of being recognised before that date. Any qualifications not recognised or in the course of being recognised before that date, and therefore also any qualifications obtained after that date, are not covered by the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements.
The Centre for Professional Qualifications lists nearly 200 professions that are regulated in the UK – and offers advice to EU Citizens seeking recognition of qualifications.
Some examples include:
Education: Primary School Teachers, Childcare workers
Health: Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, Social Workers
Finance: Insolvency Practitioners, Chartered Accountants; Chartered Insurers, Chartered Bankers
Law: Barristers, Solicitors and Actuaries
Maritime: Deck Officers, Engineers and Divers
Construction and engineering: Architects; Registered Gas Engineers; Chartered Builders; Chartered Civil Engineers
Security: Door Supervisor, Security Guards, Cash and Valuables in Transport Operatives
Transport: Airport Firefighters, Driving Instructors, Road Work Operatives
Other: Inspector of Weights and Measures and Analyst Chemists, Chartered Chemist, Chartered Marketer
Following our judicial review (see here for more details) the Home Office had to change the EUSS so that holders of pre-settled status (‘PSS’) would not lose rights for failure to either make an application for settled status (‘SS’) or re-apply for PSS. Extending PSS by two years is part of the Home Office plans to implement the decision of the High Court.
All PSS holders who are approaching the expiry date of their original PSS grant will see their status extended by 2 years shortly before it would have otherwise been due to expire. The Home Office will write to PSS holders to let them know when their pre-settled status has been extended. They will not need to contact the Home Office.
The extension will be applied to everyone who holds PSS status, including those who applied via the Zambrano and Surinder Singh routes.
The extension will be applied in the period leading up to the original expiry of PSS, shortly before the date on which the original PSS grant would have been due to expire. The Home Office has indicated that this will be in the month or two leading up to the original expiry date. PSS would otherwise have expired 5 years from the date on which that PSS was granted.
So, for example, if you were granted PSS in April 2020, your PSS was originally set to expire in April 2025. Your PSS will now be extended for 2 years in the period leading up to April 2025.
In the meantime, you should apply for SS where eligible. This is the easiest way to confirm your right to remain indefinitely in the UK. You can make an application for SS here: Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status): Switch from pre-settled status to settled status – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
No. It will be done automatically.
You will be notified of the extension. Your UKVI Account will be updated with the extension.
The Home Office has committed to implementing the judgment of the High Court which means that no PSS holder will see their EUSS status expire by virtue of failure to make a further application to the scheme.
Those who still hold PSS at the end of the 2-year extension will be subject to further arrangements to ensure that they do not lose their rights where they continue to meet the underlying eligibility conditions. We are still clarifying with the Home Office the exact nature of those arrangements.
This should not happen as all holders of PSS who have not yet switched to SS will see their PSS extended by 2 years shortly before the date on which their PSS grant would have otherwise been due to expire.
If your PSS expires without extension citizens should immediately contact the Settlement Resolution Centre. You should also report a complaint to the IMA via our online complaints portal so it can consider such issues in its assessment of the plans.
Holders of PSS should continue to apply for SS where they are eligible.
We welcome the commitment by the Home Office that no one will lose their rights where they fail to make a second application to the EUSS. However, we continue to seek further information from the Home Office regarding how the full details of their plans will be implemented. We will provide updates of our progress in assessing the changes made to EUSS.
During 2024 the Home Office intends to take steps to automatically convert as many eligible PSS holders as possible to SS once they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an additional application to the EUSS. The Home Office has stated that it will undertake automated checks of pre-settled status holders against government-held information, for example in respect of their ongoing continuous residence in the UK. We are still seeking information from the Home Office on this aspect of the proposals.
The Home Office has responded to our enquiries by saying that they are taking active steps to ensure those eligible can access the rights to which they are entitled as a result of this aspect of the judgment. The Home Office will be updating us on the details.
We are continuing to seek further information on this aspect of the plans. Further updates will be provided as our assessment progresses.
The Home Office has also made further changes to the EUSS. These are set out in the recent statement of changes to the immigration rules.
In line with our current approach to new key legislation which relates to rights under the Agreements, we will be preparing a legislation monitoring report outlining any concerns we have with the rules. The IMA are currently in discussions with the Home Office around the details of the report. We hope to be in a position to publish a report in the near future.
While we continue to assess the changes to the rules, below is a brief summary of the main aspects of the proposals.
We continue to seek further information regarding the detail of how these proposals will operate in practice and the full implications for citizens.
The Agreements provide that the UK may assess all the circumstances and reasons for missing the deadline to apply to EUSS of 30 June 2021 and to only allow applications if there are reasonable grounds for the failure to make their application by 30 June 2021.
The Home Office has amended the rules that govern the EUSS (Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules) to provide that where no such reasonable grounds exist, the application will be deemed invalid and rejected.
Details of what the Home Office considers to be reasonable grounds have now been set out in revised guidance. More information about this can be accessed here.
The rules that govern EUSS have been amended so that an application as a joining family member from an individual who entered the UK unlawfully will be deemed invalid and rejected. Joining family members can enter the UK by applying for an EUSS family permit here: Apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit to join family in the UK: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Zambrano rights derive from the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-34/09 Ruiz Zambrano. In very broad terms, it relates to the primary carer who as of 31 December 2020 had a right to reside in the UK as the primary carer of a British citizen because without that right, the British citizen would have been compelled to leave the UK and the EU.
Surinder Singh rights derive from the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-370/90 Singh. In very broad terms, this route provided a right of residence to the family member of a British citizen who was returning to the UK having exercised free movement rights in the EU or EEA EFTA States (or Switzerland).
Both Zambrano and Surinder Singh (known as family member of qualifying British citizen cases under the EUSS) cases fall outside the scope of the Agreements.
From 08 August 2023, EUSS will be closed for those who would currently be eligible for status under EUSS.
This does not affect persons who already have PSS or SS having relied on the Zambrano or Surinder Singh eligibility rules under the EUSS. Those with PSS will be able to rely on this route to apply for SS. It does not impact those who have a pending application (or appeal) under these rules. It only impacts new applications made on or after 08 August 2023.