First published: December 2021.
On Wednesday, the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) launched a lawsuit against the Home Office for breaching the terms of the Withdrawal Agreements for people who have been granted pre-settled status.
The IMA’s Statement of Facts and Grounds. | Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA)
Dr Kathryn Chamberlain, Chief Executive of the IMA said: “In taking legal action now we hope to provide clarity for those citizens with Pre-Settled Status of which there are 2.485 million as of 30 November 2021.”
Indeed, people will lose their rights to live in the UK if they don’t convert their pre-settled status to settled status within 5 years of being granted status. We have warned the Home Office that it was incompatible with the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and we wrote to the IMA in February 2021 (page 29):
Automatic loss of pre-settled status
For someone with pre-settled status who continues to live in the UK, doesn’t break their continuity of residence or any other eligibility criterion, but simply forgets to apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires, the consequences are hard to overstate.
They lose their lawful basis to be in the UK, they face the full policies of the hostile environment namely potential loss of job, rental accommodation, driving licence, access to healthcare. All for forgetting an administrative procedure.
the3million consider that this loss of status is not compliant with the Withdrawal Agreement. Whereas e.g. levying financial penalties for not applying in time would be allowed, Article 20 of the Withdrawal Agreement does not cover loss of status for lack of an administrative action.
The risks to nearly 2.5 million EU citizens and family members with pre-settled status cannot be understated and we ask the UK Government to do the right thing to avoid another Windrush and put the required safeguards in place to make sure no one faces losing their livelihoods simply because they forgot to fill in a form.
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- Text: This piece was originally published in the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 16 December 2021, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Pixabay/andrewslockwood50. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)