The aims of this group are:
- To raise awareness and ensure everyone is aware of the need to apply, and of the deadline to apply
- To assist with technical aspects of the application
- To provide language support where required
- To help those who may have difficulty showing that they meet the criteria
- To provide end-to-end support
- To help people understand their status and how to use it once granted.
In order to achieve these aims, the group will offer:
- Targeted messages to increase awareness, with vulnerable audiences specifically included in the target group
- Translations into various languages
- Video content for people with low literacy levels
- Guidance on how to make an application
- Assisted Digital Support, including points at libraries and, where necessary, home visits
- A focused customer resolution team
- A mobile team in the form of pop-up events and face-to-face support to otherwise hard to reach customers
- Specialist teams for complex cases
- Policy provisions for discretion and alternative evidence
- The provision of a paper alternative for those who are unable to apply online, even with support.
In addition to direct support from the Home Office as noted above, other bodies will also provide both direct and indirect support. The Home Office is building a network of organisations such as charities, community groups, faith groups, etc. to provide outreach and face-to-face support. They recognise that some users may hesitate to approach the Home Office for assistance. These support networks are expected to launch in the Autumn.
- People with dementia. Options are being considered regarding legal aid and support for people with dementia. Provisions are being made for people applying on behalf of individuals with dementia who don’t know their background, such as, if someone is applying for someone with dementia and doesn’t know if they have a criminal record, it won’t matter. Checks will be carried out in the usual manner.
- Looked after children will be referred to specialist caseworkers and there will be specific guidance for staff. Alternative evidence will be accepted.
- Missed deadline. There will be a pragmatic approach, on a case by case basis. If someone is flagged after the deadline as having not applied then the priority for the Home Office will be to help then to apply. The digital status will be helpful to the NHS and the DWP as the information on registration will be at their fingertips.
- No deal. The Home Office are working on the basis that there will be an agreement but the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have stated that in the event of no deal, EU citizens in the UK will be protected.
- Missing evidence. Caseworkers will be proactively contacting the applicant when there are problems and will be using the principle of evidential flexibility.
- Length and/or continuity of residence. People who are only granted pre-settled will have the right to an appeal or an administrative review if they think they should have been given settled status.
- EU Court of Justice. There will be an eight year referral mechanism to the EU Court of Justice on interpretation of the agreements.
- Current EU rights. These will be retained until 31st December 2020.
- Provisions are being made for the specific issues surrounding trans people.
- The lack of financial resources to cover the application fee by vulnerable groups, the homeless in particular, is being addressed by the Select Committee. More information is expected at the next meeting.
- Consideration is being given to offering a degree of flexibility on ID documents, for example, if an Italian national has to wait a long time to get a new passport or ID card.