Date Published: 24.02.2023
Status: Past
Type: Residence
Outcome: No further action

EUSS Family Applications

Summary of Information

The IMA received intelligence that there was a higher proportion of EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) applications from children under the age of 18 awaiting a decision, than for applicants over the age of 18. The IMA also received 5 complaints concerning EUSS child applications which remained pending, despite the fact that the applications of their family members, which were submitted at the same time, had received a decision. The IMA also received complaints concerning parents still awaiting a decision on their EUSS application, whilst their child had already received a decision on theirs, again despite applying at the same time.

The IMA was therefore concerned that the requirement under Article 18(1)(f) of the Withdrawal Agreement and Article 17(1)(f) of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement to consider together applications made by families at the same time may not be being adhered to.

Summary of Actions and Evidence

The IMA has carefully considered the issues identified and reviewed the Home Office’s processes around EUSS child applications, seeking clarification where that was necessary.

The Home Office confirmed that applications made by families at the same time will, where possible, be identified and considered together. However, it is not always feasible, or appropriate, to decide such applications at the same time. EEA citizens of whatever age who were resident in the UK by the end of the transition period at 11pm on 31 December 2020 are able to rely on their own continuous residence in the UK in applying to the EUSS and their application does not need to be considered with any other.

In addition, in the case of those child applications which do rely on a family relationship to an EEA citizen, the Home Office told us that a parent’s application will generally be decided first, in order to reduce the administrative burden in respect of the child’s application and because, if the parent is granted settled status, the child will be eligible for settled status without having been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years.

Furthermore, the Home Office confirmed that there may be occasions where a child is potentially eligible for settled status (because they have been continuously resident in the UK for 5 years, perhaps at school here) whilst their parent is eligible for pre-settled status (because they arrived in the UK more recently), meaning that the evidence in support of the child’s application will need to be considered on its own merits. In such cases a decision on the parent’s application will not be delayed whilst the child’s application remains under consideration.

Finally, the Home Office told us that safeguarding concerns can also emerge when considering a child application, for example if the application is not associated with one from a family member via a unique application number (UAN). This can result in additional checks being made to ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in making a decision on the application.

The IMA will continue to handle delays as a separate issue titled “EUSS – Application Delays”, which can be viewed on the Issues Log.

Summary of Decision

On the basis of the information available at this point in time, the IMA has determined that it does not have reasonable grounds to believe that an inquiry into this issue may identify general or systemic failings in the implementation or application of Part II of the WA.  Furthermore, the IMA does not consider that it would be proportionate and / or reasonable to continue to explore this issue further by way of Inquiry at this time.

However, should the IMA receive any further information or complaints about this or related issues, these will be considered on their merits and in line with IMA’s internal processes.

Does this issue affect you?

The complaints submitted to us help build a picture of where there are common, wide-reaching, or systemic issues with how UK public bodies are implementing the Withdrawal Agreement(s) for EU and EEA EFTA citizens’ rights.