IMA warns of rights risk to EU citizens over late EU Settlement Scheme applications

Public bodies ,

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) is warning that better understanding of the rights of late applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is required to avoid potential hardship for individuals.

The IMA protects the rights of eligible EU and EEA EFTA citizens – those who were living in the UK and Gibraltar before 31 December 2020 and who have applied to EUSS – ensuring that they can live and work as they did before Brexit.

However, concerns remain as awareness of this update is yet to be widespread amongst public bodies and citizens. Further detail is also awaited from the Home Office around how such rights will be implemented and the IMA remains in discussion with them to monitor their plans.

The rights of late applicants to EUSS (those submitted after 30 June 2021) have been an ongoing concern of the IMA, being the subject of discussion with the Home Office for some time. The IMA welcomes the Home Office’s announcement on 6 August 2021 that the rights of late applicants and their joining family members would be upheld.

Pam Everett, IMA Director of Operational Delivery said:

“It is a reassuring first step to have confirmation from the Home Office that the rights of late applicants to the EUSS will be upheld. The focus now must be on ensuring that public bodies are aware of their duty in this respect, and that if late applicants encounter a problem, that they report their complaint to the IMA while pursuing the matter with the relevant public authority.

“This period, when awareness is likely to be low and while detail from the Home Office is missing, brings risk. Commonly it’s when there’s a lack of clarity or understanding that rights infringements will occur.”

The Home Office confirmed over 58,000 applications had been made to the EUSS following its deadline. The IMA is particularly concerned about how the situation around late applications could impact vulnerable citizens.

IMA Chief Executive, Dr Kathryn Chamberlain said:

“We know from advocacy groups and charities that there is significant potential for late applications to come from vulnerable citizens; including those who have been in care, young people and the elderly.

“Even before the EUSS deadline the IMA was aware of some local authorities warning EU citizens that they would be removed from housing waiting lists if they could not provide proof of settled status.

“So there is a real risk that vulnerable citizens’ access to essential services such as housing, benefits, and NHS care could be impacted. That’s why it’s so important that the IMA hears about such problems via its complaints portal”.