Thank you for writing to me about the EU Settlement Scheme.
I understand there are concerns regarding the 30th June deadline. However, there has to be some impetus to apply; these things have to come to an end at some point and it’s important to remember that the Scheme was open for well over two years. This represents a fair amount of time and was, as I understand it, far longer than the Withdrawal Agreement required. By contrast, most EU countries had an application window for their respective schemes of around 12 months. It is also important to consider that as of 30th June, more than 6 million applications have been received by the Scheme, with more than 5.44 million concluded.
I appreciate that a number of applications are still pending, but I have been assured by Ministers that Home Office officials are working double time to get these sorted. I would also like to confirm that anyone who applied to the Scheme by the 30th June deadline, but has not had a decision, has their rights protected until their application is decided. This is the law. In the meantime, they will be able to rely on their certificate of application as proof of their right to work or rent.
The application process itself was streamlined and user-friendly and drew on existing government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence. Applications will not be refused on minor technicalities without the applicant being given the opportunity to rectify them, and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate. As a result, the Home Office has said it expects the vast majority of cases to be granted, with refusals most likely to be because of serious criminality or if the person is not an EU citizen (or family member). You can find the latest statistics re. applications to the EU Settlement Scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-settlement-scheme-statistics
You may be reassured that there will be instances where applications made after the deadline will be accepted. In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreement, there remains scope, indefinitely, for a person eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme to make a late application to the scheme where there are reasonable grounds for their failure to meet the deadline. I welcome the fact that Ministers have now published guidance for caseworkers on what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds for making a late application’, and you can find this here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-caseworker-guidance
I was particularly glad that the Government has made it clear that the guidance is not exhaustive and that all cases will be considered on a flexible and pragmatic basis in light of their particular circumstances. I was also pleased to see other ways in which the Government has already demonstrated a compassionate approach where people needed to make a late application. For instance, people who could have applied but missed the deadline were granted 28 days to make a late application.
I hope you find the information provided here useful and that it covers most, if not all, of your concerns.
Thank you once again for writing.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking