Minutes of the EU User group meeting of 23rd February 2018
Item 1 – documentation
- The main point of today’s meeting was to identify the most vulnerable groups and how to ensure that they are given every ability to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
- Vulnerable groups were identified as those who have been living in the UK with no records or with gaps in records. This may include the elderly, stay at home parents, those who have been working unlawfully and without paying tax, the homeless and those with no fixed abode.
- The Home Office have prepared a list of documents which they think may be appropriate, but welcomed comments and possible further additions, again with focus on the groups above. It’s clear that the system is being designed without consideration for ‘treaty rights’ and is based purely on residence. The have an explicit target of catching everyone, with no one who is resident on the cut off date slipping through the gaps.
- Their theory is that for most they will only require one item of evidence per year of residence.
- The key point was reiterated, that everyone who applies on the cut off date will get either settled or pre-settled status. (with the criminality caveat).If they at first get pre-settled status but have been resident for 5 years they will be able to apply at a later date for settled status if they obtain further evidence. If they are on the pre-settled they will be able to build up the five years and then apply for settled status.
- The only difference between the two statuses is the ability to leave the UK for up to five years for settled status without losing that status. Those with pre-settled status would lose their right of return if they leave for more than six months.
- There was a discussion on whether, with permissions, the Home Office could get information from credit reference agencies, as well as how much evidence and information the Home Office is willing to process. The agreement was that they don’t want people just sending in random things but that they want to talk people through this when they don’t fit the ‘norm’.
- There was confirmation that periods of time in prison over 6 months would break residence but that applicants would be able to apply for pre-settled status on release (with the caveat on the criminality clause).
- The HO confirmed that they would not refuse an applicant whose evidence includes periods of working unlawfully, ie not paying tax. The Home Office want to assist with better ways to help people get on record to allow them to register.
- The discussion about ‘backdating’ settled status for citizenship purposes is ongoing and the Home Office are aware of the issue and actively looking at it.
- There have been meetings with the OISC about how to best allow community groups to assist with applications. These meetings are going well and it is hoped that someone from the OISC will attend the next meeting.
Item 2 – Comms
- The proposals need to be signed off at the next European Council meeting on 22nd March 2018. They are still looking at an Autumn launch for the registration scheme.
- Intermediaries will be crucial, they are working on building relationships with community groups, local authorities and employers. The European Commission will be producing information videos for EU nationals in the UK.
- As far as the HO are concerned, all EU nationals in the UK are covered by the withdrawal agreement, which seems a firm commitment that their use of the term ‘lawful resident’ in the WA does not mean ‘those exercising treaty rights’, it means all those who are resident.
- Dual nationals are explicitly covered in the WA, which means that those who have naturalised as British following gaining PR through exercising treaty rights will still have the rights of family reunion as recognised in ‘Lounes’, though they, of course, will not have to register themselves (as Irish nationals won’t have to).
- Clear guidance will be set out for employers and landlords to ensure that no one is discriminated against.
- The next meetings will be focusing on the ability of community groups to assist with applications, in conjunction with the OISC as above, and the criminality issue.
UKCEN asked the admin of the User Group about when we are going to see it written in black and white that settled status does not only apply to those who are exercising treaty rights. This is her reply:
Thank you for your message. We intend to cover and confirm the question of residence vs legitimate activity at a future meeting – we realise it is a big question and that the answer will need to be fully communicated as soon as possible to allay fears. Meanwhile, you might wish to note what the Minister said during a hearing of the European Scrutiny Committee last Wednesday: http://data.parliament.uk/…/e…/eu-withdrawal/oral/79097.html
The key paragraph from this:
Anybody who can demonstrate residency for five years will certainly find it an easy process to get through. We are not going to apply any tests about whether they have been working and exercising their treaty rights; it literally is just if they can demonstrate residency.