Nicolas Hatton, co-chair of the3million, a group that fights for EU Citizens’ rights in the UK after Brexit, on the difficulty to agree on an easy registration system for all EU citizens rather than the Home Office’s complexe system of applications.
Dear fellow EU citizen,
This week, the Home Office told the3million and other organisations that "you can only give the message that the system will be simple."
This is our report, and it’s not simple:
On Monday, the3million attended the third EU Citizens Users Representative Group meeting organised by the Home Office, alongside other organisations such as British Future, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, East European Resource Centre, New Europeans, Polish Social and Cultural Association and UKCEN.
The official purpose of these meetings is to run health checks with ‘users’ on the proposed procedure being drafted by the Government for EU citizens to apply and obtain ‘settled status’ post-Brexit.
The unofficial purpose is to back up the narrative by the Government that citizens’ groups are consulted on settled status. Which is incorrect as we have repeatedly been told during the first three meeting that anything to do with the negotiations was out of scope, including the loss of rights if we go from Permanent Residence to ‘settled status’.
In the past two meetings, we have consistently challenged the Home Office on their proposal to make us apply for ‘settled status’ as it would make our existing EU rights ‘fall away’ and bring us under UK immigration law, especially after Brexit and the transition period. The consequences of not applying or being refused would be very severe.
The previous immigration minister Brandon Lewis had publicly said that the Government intended all EU citizens to stay. We are holding the UK government to this declared intention, and we continue to believe that this can only be realised by a simple declaratory, local and light touch registration - not application - process, without additional background, ‘security’ or ‘criminality’ checks.
Following the meeting this week, we continue to be concerned about the Home Office to cope with anything else, due to budget cuts, the insufficient number of caseworkers, inadequate training, data protection issues, the hostile environment - to which the new immigration minister Caroline Nokes appears to have pledged allegiance! - and all the other concerns that have been in the public domain for a long time.
The Home Office itself estimates that 5-10% of EU citizens "will need a lot of time" (that's up to 340,000 people). So much for their simple system for all.
So as we stand, there is still far too much confusion nearly 19 months after the referendum regarding our future rights, how we access them, how vulnerable EU citizens will be supported and the level of protection from which we will all benefit.
We want our family members to be protected under EU law and will continue to fight for that.
To be continued...🔷
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