We were promised our lives wouldn’t change. Now our loved ones are left in limbo for months on end, we are left unable to care for our elderly parents, our families are being split apart, and parents are unable to even see their children.
First published: May 2022.
Data provided by the Home Office to the3million this week reveals increases in waiting times did not start with the war in Ukraine. Trends for visas for family members of EU citizens show that the waiting time for family permits has been steadily increasing since April 2021.
The Withdrawal Agreement clearly states these applications should be processed “on the basis of an accelerated procedure”.
Applications for EUSS Family Permits are the only type of application where no expected decision time is given on the Government’s Visa Decision Waiting Times webpage. It only says “you will get a decision as soon as possible”.
Xtra | EUSS Family Permits
“You may be able to get an EU Settlement Scheme family permit to come to the UK if you’re the family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You may also be able to apply if you’re the family member of an eligible person of Northern Ireland.
The family members of some British citizens can also get a permit.
You must be outside the UK to apply.
What family permits are for
A family permit makes it easier to travel with your family member to the UK or to join them there.
It lets you come to the UK for up to 6 months. You can work and study, and come and go as many times as you want before the permit expires.
Without one, you might not get a boarding pass or may be refused entry into the UK.”
In February 2022, people had been waiting for an average of 7 months before they were issued their visas. How is this justified by the Home Office to be an accelerated procedure?
At this crucial time, the government’s plans to cut 90,000 civil servant jobs is extremely worrying and threatens to exacerbate the issue even further. Brexit is clearly not finished; resources are needed to ensure EU citizens living under this new immigration system receive decisions under reasonable timescales, and employers, landlords and citizens are given the required support when new digital status checks go wrong.
There are still over 260,000 people in the EU Settlement Scheme backlog, in addition to the family members waiting for visas. In April we have seen the lowest ever monthly number of applications concluded. At the current rate, it would take the Home Office three years to clear this backlog.
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We were promised our lives wouldn’t change. Now our loved ones are left in limbo for months on end, we are left unable to care for our elderly parents, our families are being split apart and parents are unable to even see their children. Every single person in the over 260,000 backlogs can be struggling to convince a border guard, an employer, a landlord, and many more, of their right to be here.
At the3million, we continue to draw attention to these important issues faced by our community. You can join us by:
- Reporting your problems applying for, viewing or proving your status
- Sharing the scale of the backlog of applications and the impact it has on people
- Sharing the data on family permit delays
- Getting in touch with us to tell your story
— AUTHORS —
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- Text: This piece was originally published in the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 20 May 2022. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Unsplash/Kylo. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)