Latest updates on EU citizens rights after Brexit, ‘no deal’ Brexit, the Last Mile lobby and the *un*Settled Status.
On Monday, I took a day off my normal work to wear my voluntary activist hat for the3million in the social media team (Twitter).
I know what you are thinking. I am French. As they say, a “high-skilled” migrant, an Electrical engineer (especially as we lack of them). You will tell me that I will be fine, or should be fine. If I say “No”, you will reassure me saying it will all be fine.
Well, let me tell you, I will not be fine. Neither your EU employees if they do not have British citizenship, regardless their qualifications, or being high/low skilled.
If you are a business owner or working in HR, you might have been horrified by the news, last week, of the shambles created by Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes (read the reaction from the3million). She was unprepared, ignorant and got confused about what will happen to EU citizens in case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
She said she expects employers to perform right-to-work checks on EU employees. While acknowledging this might be challenging as no one will be able to differentiate newly arrivals from those who live here for decades. EU citizens arriving after the 29 March 2019 will have to have a mandatory Settled status. But those who have been here before the 29 March 2019 will have up to the end of June 2021 to apply. You can imagine that will be tricky.
You will meet, during the recruitment process, some EU citizens who will have to present their Settled Status that you will have to check, and other EU citizens who will not have to present any Settled Status as they are not legally required to have it and you will not be allowed to discard their applications due to not having a Settled Status.
Obviously, you will have no way to know what rule to apply as you will not have any official way to confirm if a candidate arrived before or after 29 March 2019. If you decide to only accept EU citizens with a Settled Status, you will discriminate against those who were here, even for decades. This will not be legal and could be challenged. But if you employ an EU citizen who needs to have the Settled Status and you don’t check it, you risk a civil penalty up to £20,000 per employee which you failed to see if their immigration status allowed them to work.
“It’s also a criminal offence if the employer knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that a person who is subject to immigration control and who needs permission to work does not have it” (FreeMovement.org.uk). As this same source mentions, asking for evidence that someone has the right to work is not common practice in the UK. It usually is for high-skill positions, but not for low-skill ones. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, clarified that if there is a transition period, employers will not have to perform right to work checks.
But what will happen in case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit?
The time is ticking for EU citizens and we have 5 months left, and the UK government is crystal clear: Freedom of Movement will end on 29 March 2019.
The platform to apply for Settled Status is not live yet and not ready. The government promised it would be an easy and smooth process, but the guidance book contains 59 pages. It does not work for half of the population (Apple phone users, and some Android phones).
The Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes proudly stated that 1,000 EU citizens have gone through the process and got their Settled Status in a few months of trials. Fair enough, but what about the other 3.6 million EU citizens? From those trials, 66% applications were straight forward, some required additional evidence and 12.5% of the applications were unresolved cases. Technically not rejected, but not granted with a Settled Status. A charity, JCWI, sued the UK over post-Brexit plan for EU nationals. JCWI “argued in its legal challenge lodged with the High Court in London that the Settled Status scheme rules were not simple.”
The UK government did not learn its lessons following the Windrush scandal, they are installing the ground for a Windrush 2 as they are already changing the rules of the Settled Status, even if it is not live yet.
How can the Home Office be ready for 29 March 2019? How can we trust the Home Office? How can YOU be ready for 29 March 2019? How will you support your EU employees? It applies to your family and friends too.
We, the5million (British living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK), organised a mass lobby #thelastmile and a human chain from Number 10 to Parliament to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
You can read the full content here.
We had several speeches from various organisations, unions, activists... The event was covered in the press worldwide (EU, Asia, Africa, US...). Unfortunately, not in the UK, as my friend Axel pointed out.
The lobby went to the UK Parliament where we had two committee rooms booked. We had cross-parties speeches (Conservatives, Labour, Greens, SNP, LibDems, UDI). Even the Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Exiting the EU, Martin Walker MP, took the time to make a statement and listened to worried citizens living on both sides of the Channel.
As we were in Parliament, we saw the news that an Urgent Question about what the future of our rights in case of a ‘no-deal’ scenario was asked in the House of Commons by Yvette Cooper MP. We are not reassured...
The Twitter activity helped the cause to reach over 600,000 people the other day.
What can you do to help us too?
We are your family, friends, employees, bosses, CEOs, fruit pickers, students, carers, nurses, doctors, plumbers, electricians... You need us. Your businesses need us.
Please, support us: www.the3million.org.uk
Inform EU citizens who are not following the news that they need to know how to be prepared: Settled Status checklist. The Home Office will target the most vulnerable. First, Operation Nexus proved us how they treat people. Talk around you, even if it is uncomfortable.
We are your people too. By supporting us, you also support the British people living in the EU. They are completely forgotten by the UK government.
Their fight is our fight too.🔷
- “EU Freedom of movement - Brexit: what was the right to work checks debacle really about?”
- The concerns of the3million about the impact of Settled Status on EU citizens.
TWEET THIS STORY NOW:
(This piece was originally published on Medium.)