The Home Office’s stringent policies are resulting in unnecessary hardship for EU citizens. Recent immigration rule adjustments have resulted in unfair rejections and a convoluted administrative process.
by Andreea Dumitrache
Communications Manager & Interim Co-CEO at the3million
T he authoritarian streak of the Home Office sadly continues, affecting more and more EU citizens. Since immigration rules changed on 9 August, we are seeing even more people being refused their rights unjustly and suffering at the hands of the hostile environment.
In the early days of the EU Settlement Scheme, the Home Office took an approach of “looking to grant status” to EU citizens and family members. This has now shifted entirely and we’re seeing people being falsely accused of providing fake documents. It’s a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare, leaving people to suffer in destitution.
We’re seeing people who are submitting bank statements and household bills being told that PDF documents are not acceptable, as they can be faked. They’re being advised by the Home Office to take photos of their documents instead.
People are trapped, facing outrageous accusations from the Home Office, submitting bills and other evidence in multiple ways, asking their energy providers to send letters to the Home Office certifying the authenticity of their bills. It’s ridiculous.
Meanwhile, even the most common sense reasons for why people are applying late are being rejected – without a right of appeal.
For example, why would anyone who was granted permanent residence as a non-EU citizen, and has a sticker in their passport, issued by the Home Office, stating they have no restrictions in the UK until November 2023, know they were supposed to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, as a family member of a EU citizen?
“No restrictions on the holder’s activity in the United Kingdom.”
Their EU spouse did apply for settled status, as they were supposed to – but neither realised that the non-EU partner had to as well. They had already been through a process with the Home Office and thought they were fine until 2023 – as stated so clearly in their documentation.
They assumed their rights were protected – after all their rights were granted permanently. When they went to apply for a biometric card to replace the passport sticker, they were told to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. When they did and explained their full reasons for applying late, they were refused as the Home Office didn’t consider this a strong enough reason.
Since 2020, no one told them about this change. They worked, travelled and got a mortgage, without a hitch. How can any common sense interpretation of ‘Reasonable Grounds’ for a late application not include such a scenario?
Telling someone who’s lived in the UK for more than 15 years they will lose the life they have built here just because they didn’t fill in a form is cruel and unjust.
We won’t stand for this treatment of EU citizens and our family members. We are taking every opportunity to raise these issues, and more, with the Home Office, the government, the opposition, the Independent Monitoring Authority, the EU Delegation and Commission, and other decision-makers.
What brings us hope is seeing that our work is making an impact, with more people getting the justice they deserve. Just this week, a young man who has not had access to his status for years, told us:
“I logged in last night and I can finally prove my status again. Thank you so much for your help, I wouldn’t have got this far without you.”
It really should not be this hard to implement a compassionate and fair immigration system, respecting people’s rights.
If you have experienced issues applying for or proving your status, please:
Report it to us: www.the3million.org.uk/report-it
Tell the Independent Monitoring Authority: https://ima-citizensrights.org.uk/report-complaint/ (and take part in the inquiry on delays: https://imacitizensrights.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5zotTjloApUCBPE)
Reach out to your MP: https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons
If you or your family and friends experience any issues in applying for EUSS family permits, pre-settled or settled status, or in using a digital status, report it!
If you can afford it, become a paying supporter today to enable the3million to continue to uphold the Government to account and inform EU citizens of their rights: https://www.the3million.org.uk/donate
You can also:
Follow their Twitter account: twitter.com/the3million
Like their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/the3million/
Join the conversation with over 45,000 fellow EU citizens in the Facebook Forum for EU citizens: www.facebook.com/groups/Forum4EUcitizens/