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24 August 2021

EU Settlement Scheme: submitting a late application

3 mins

Last week, Alison Stanley, partner in our Immigration, Asylum and Nationality team, commented on the Home Office backlog in processing applications under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Notwithstanding the delays in dealing with applications made before the deadline of 30 June 2021, the Home Office continues to urge EU nationals resident in the UK to apply to the Scheme, announcing on 6 August 2021 that the rights of new applicants will be temporarily protected while their late applications are being processed

Making a late application

Any eligible EU national (and in some instances their family members) can make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. We have previously commented on who may be eligible to apply for the Scheme here.

However, since the 30 June 2021 deadline for making applications for Settled and Pre-Settled has passed, applicants must show, in addition to their eligibility for the Scheme, that they have a ‘good reason’ for applying late. 

The Home Office has published detailed guidance on what will constitute a ‘good reason’. In summary, children in care and people who have not applied because they have been suffering from mental or physical ill health, or have care needs, are likely to be protected, as will victims of modern slavery. Another ‘good reason’ may be that an applicant did not apply before the deadline for other compelling practical or compassionate reasons (which may include people who were unable to apply for reasons such as lack of access to the internet, limited English language skills, homelessness or inability to access the required evidence to support an application). 

The Home Office has indicated that it will give ‘the benefit of the doubt’ to those who provide a reason for submitting their application after the deadline. By this, the Home Office says that it means that it will look for reasons to grant applications, not for reasons to refuse them.

Which rights will be protected?

The Home Office’s announcement means that, currently, once a late application is submitted, the following rights of the applicant will be protected until the application has been decided:

  • The right to work in the UK (including taking up new employment);
  • the right to rent property;
  • the right to receive welfare benefits;
  • the right to access free NHS treatment (it is worth noting here that anyone in the UK, regardless of immigration status, can access some NHS treatment, including a GP and care provided in A&E. This is known as primary care – it is only access to secondary care, such as hospital treatment for chronic conditions, that will need to be paid for by those who have not yet applied).

How long will the protection last?

The government has not made clear how long this temporary protection will be in place.

We would, therefore, recommend that all EU nationals who may be eligible to apply for leave to remain in the UK should act now to submit an application as it is not clear how long it will be before it is too late.

For more information or advice on this topic, please contact our Immigration team.

Elisabeth Attwood, paralegal in our Immigration, Asylum and Nationality team, contributed to this article. 

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