Home Office change of heart over EU Settlement Scheme applications from long-term UK residents holding permanent residence documents.
New guidance published on 16 January marks a major U-turn in the government’s position on late applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
In October 2023, we explained here how an apparently small change the Home Office had made to its guidance in August 2023 was having a seismic effect on people who believed their right of permanent residence in the UK was already secure. That change led to the Home Office automatically refusing all late EUSS applications from people who held documents saying they already had a permanent right to reside in the UK as a result of EU law.
However, thanks to a major push by members of our team – including raising awareness of the issue, liaising with Home Office staff, advising those affected on how to challenge refusals and working with specialist colleagues from other organisations – this guidance has now been changed.
In a new document published yesterday, the Home Office has acknowledged that where a person has a ‘reasonable belief’ that they did not need to apply to the EUSS because they hold a document confirming their right of permanent residence in the UK as an EU national or their family member, this may constitute reasonable grounds for a late application to the EUSS.
The Home Office directs its caseworkers to consider all the evidence provided for a late application being made in these circumstances ‘in the round’.
We therefore strongly recommend that any permanent residence document holders now applying to the EUSS to explain in as much detail as possible why they did not previously know they needed to make a new application to secure their immigration status in the UK.
In addition to the explanation, we recommend uploading copies of any evidence the applicant may have showing that they had reasonable grounds to believe that their immigration status had already been secured. Examples might include travelling into the UK using their permanent residence document as evidence of their right to enter, or being told by an employer that a ‘right to work check’ had shown their continued permission to work in the UK.
Elisabeth Attwood of our Immigration team comments:
We are delighted that the Home Office has now responded positively to the very detailed work conducted by us and other EUSS experts. However, we are worried about the many people without legal assistance whose applications have been rejected in the 6 months it has taken the Home Office to rectify its guidance.
We urge any EU nationals or their family members holding permanent residence documents whose applications have been rejected since 9 August 2023 to reapply to the EUSS now that the Guidance has changed.