The deadline for applications to the EU Settled Status Scheme on 30 June means that there will be changes for EU citizens, their families and dependents living and working in the UK.
This can be an anxious time for UNISON members from the EU, especially for those still waiting for their settled status applications to be processed. As of last month, over 300,000 EU citizens were still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications. There will also be members who might not have realised they needed to apply for the scheme. This might include migrant workers from non-EU countries whose relationship with an EU citizen will entitle them to Settled Status.
UNISON campaigned for the deadline to be extended but in the absence of an extension, also campaigned to improve Government support for late applications to the scheme. The Government acknowledges that there are broad grounds for late applications including for the elderly, the incapacitated, looked-after children, those with poor IT skills and those in abusive relationships. The grounds for late applications also now includes those who had not realised they needed to apply to the scheme.
At this time, UNISON branches can be an important source of support for affected members.
This should include reminding employers that
- the Home Office is advising against retrospective ‘right-to-work’ checks. The Home Office has confirmed that employers do not need to re-check the status of any members of staff employed before 1 July 2021;
- many who are eligible for the scheme are still waiting for their applications to be processed – a ‘certificate of application’ is sufficient proof in these cases;
- there are broad grounds for late applications which might apply to those staff who were unaware that they needed to apply and they are entitled to a grace period to make a late application;
- should focus on reassuring anxious staff who might be in limbo or affected by any disruptions to their life as a result of these disruptive changes or any problems accessing their new digital status
UNISON provides information to our members through the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). This can be accessed by calling UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857 and requesting immigration advice – the member will be passed on to an adviser at JCWI who will allocate time to call them.