On Tuesday 28th February the APPG on Migration held a launch event of their recent report which offers an evidence-based overview of the current concerns associated with the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Olivia Blake MP
- David Simmonds MP, CBE
- Sabrina Huck and Anegla Afzal, RAMP Advisers
- Daphne Giachero, Campaigns Organiser, the3million
- Jen Ang, Director of Development and Policy, Just Right Scotland
- Natalie Byer, Programme Manager, Polish Migrants Organise for Change
- Dmitri Macmillen, Head of Immigration, Work Rights Centre
David Simmonds MP and Oliva Blake MP welcomed attendees and stated the importance of hearing the first hand accounts of those affected by the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
Sabrina Huck and Angela Afzal of the Refugee, Asylum and Migration Policy Project gave a brief overview of the inquiry’s methodology, findings and recommendations. While acknowledging that for many, the EUSS has been a simple process, Sabrina and Angela handed over to the advisory group for the inquiry, to provide detailed case studies of the issues European Citizens living in the UK have faced due to the scheme.
The most common challenge reported was that of outstanding applications and waiting times. Daphne Giachero, Campaigns Organiser at the3million brought up the case study of a German citizen who had been living in the UK since 2006 and had been refused settlement because they could not produce a consistent track record of residence. Their application has been on-going for 18 months, with much of the correspondence they received from the Home Office being auto-generated messages. Daphne concluded that not only have these waiting caused intense amount of stress but on many occasions a loss of work due to the outstanding application.
Next Natalia Bryer, Programme Manager at Polish Migrants Organise for Change spoke of a case of a Polish national, who had been waiting for a decision since August 2020. Not only has the long wait put immense stress on his relationship, but issues with his share code has meant he has lost out on job opportunities.
Lastly Jen Ang, Director of Development and Policy at Just Right Scotland, shared a case of an EUSS application who has been waiting 2 years for a decision. They reported the only correspondence they get is an auto-generated email telling them they need to wait. Subsequently they have suffered hugely with their mental health.
Other key challenges posed by the EUSS were highlighted including a lack of clarity about what will happen to those who need to make a new EUSS application, converting from pre-settled status to settled status and lastly an inability for many applicants to access their application status digitally.
The event then moved onto the recommendations made in the report. Sabrina Huck started by detailing the need for Home Office-wide reform, specifically the need to commit to a review of the progress of immigration applications currently in backlog across the Home Office.
The next recommendation concerned the pre-settled status to settled status transition. Sabrina made the point that those who do not meet the residency requirement for settled status should be granted a further period of pre-settled status. Additionally, the automatic granting of settled status to those with pre-settled status after 5 years was also recommended. Sabrina also highlighted the remaining recommendations from the report including greater sharing of best practice across government departments, the implementing of a review of the impact of the EUSS on EU citizens in the UK and lastly to ensure that formalised escalation routes exist between frontline organisations and community caseworkers can access senior Home Office decision-makers for complex cases.
The contributors to the report then shared cases they encountered where adoption of these recommendations would have greatly improved the application process. One noticeable contribution was from Daphne of the3million. Daphne shared the importance of adopting digital systems which are built in line with the principals promoted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Daphne highlighted how at present, there are 5 different stages of making a EUSS application where digital errors could occur.
To close the event, the chairs, Olivia Blake MP and David Simmonds MP thanked all the contributors of the event, stating that the recommendations suggested by the report would have a positive real world impact.
The event was well attended by a number of parliamentary researchers and civil society representatives, as well as a number of interested MPs and Peers.