the3million publishes a survey on the main concerns of EU citizens as they apply for the government’s Settled Status scheme to be able to remain in their own home in the UK after Brexit.
While the Government has removed the Settled Status application fee (£65 for adults, 32.50 for children), many concerns remain for EU citizens in the UK.
This evening, we are holding a parliamentary briefing about Settled Status in London, to give you the opportunity to meet your MP, and express your concerns. MPs would particularly like to hear from EU citizens who have already applied to Settled Status.
The objective of the briefing is to raise awareness among MPs of issues facing EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, so they have them in mind when voting on amendments to the forthcoming immigration bill early March.
Based on 823 survey responses from EU citizens in the UK, between 10 and 14 January 2019, the main worries are:
1. Future change to rights, without proper scrutiny (i.e. the Home Office is planning to implement the Settled Status scheme through regulations, not primary legislation which would be voted on by our MPs);
2. The loss of rights in case of no-deal;
3. Home Office mistakes;
4. Access to our own data when mounting an appeal in case of refusal or the wrong status being granted (i.e. someone who has lived in the UK for 5 years of more, but only being granted pre-settled status), because of the exemption in the Data Protection Act 2018 which the3million is currently challenging in court.
Interestingly, the survey was done before Theresa May scrapped the £65 fee, which came last in the list of concerns:
Since then, the issue around the lack of funding from central Government has come to the fore, when the Home Office originally announced they would only open 15 local scanning documents centres, before saying there would be around 50 centres.
This is wholly insufficient, since EU citizens in the UK can be found in all of the 418 local authorities, but it could have something to do with the £90m contract the Home Office signed in 2018 with French outsourcing group Sopra Steria, which shows they intend to provide local support sites at around 60 locations for the whole of the UK.
Since 2017, the3million has campaigned for Government to work with local authorities to enable EU citizens across all counties to apply locally and in person, but our call was repeatedly ignored, despite the strong argument that it is the responsibility of the Government to make sure all EU citizens get a settled status, not the other way round.
Another key issue is the lack of a physical document for us to prove our status after Brexit when using services, applying for a job, accessing healthcare, trying to secure accommodation or opening a bank account.
There are so many anecdotal pieces of evidence of discrimination against EU citizens in the UK right now (my own experience of looking to rent a flat in Bristol last June was one of them), and not having a physical document will undoubtedly make it worse.
Imagine an elderly EU citizen being taken to a hospital, with their passport or ID card, but without a smartphone to show the digital token issue to them by the Home Office...
Imagine the Home Office computer systems being ‘temporarily unavailable’ when facing a border guard at the airport on your return from a holiday armed only with your passport…
Hopefully, we will see some of you in Parliament today. We will try to record the briefing and then share it on our YouTube channel.🔷
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(This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)