| Cécile Faure | Octobre 2020 |

 

On Thursday 8th October, the UK Government released EU Settlement Scheme Statistics as of 30th September 2020.

Of 4.06 million applications made across the UK, there have been nearly 3.7 million from England, 204,700 from Scotland, 67,200 from Wales and 66,300 from Northern Ireland up to the end of September 2020. To that date, 3.88 million grants of status have also been given, securing millions of European’s rights in UK law. We had the opportunity to ask few questions to Kevin Foster MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Immigration at the Home Office since 16th December 2019.

 

Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster

 

Why has the government stopped publishing monthly statistics by nationality, the last one being May this year?

Statistics are published on a quarterly basis. This allows us to better highlight trends on applications, by nationality. We will publish more detailed statistics next month.

 

How badly is the EU Settlement Scheme application system affected by the pandemic? Do you expect any delays that would justify postponing the deadline? 

The system is actually going very well. We receive on average 1000 applications per day, and as many are processed in the same time. It is only a 15-minute job, easy to do through smart phones and tablets. The results are quick, in matters of days, few weeks at most, but not months.

The Home Office has a dedicated team of more than 1,500 people working on the EU Settlement Scheme with support provided seven days a week by telephone and by email. The Home Office has also made up to £17 million available to 72 organisations (charities, local authorities and local government associations) across the UK to support the more vulnerable in society. Communication materials have been translated into 26 languages, and support is also available for those who do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to apply online. So no, there is no reason to delay applying for it, and there won’t be any postponement of the deadline.

 

For the French community (that includes those who consider coming to the UK, who have just arrived and those who have been living here for decades; students, workers and their family, non-working spouses and former spouses staying in the country for obvious family reason, pensioners, etc.) the Brexit negotiation covers important issues, even if they are not the most publicized, of which mobility and coordination of social protection mechanisms are essential components. Both issues have been addressed recently by the Government – the increase in fees to access healthcare and the recent launch of the point based immigration system. How do the fees to access healthcare and the point based immigration system apply to those who are already on UK grounds but may not have yet obtained settled status?

To all who live in the UK and qualify for settled status by 31st December, the point based immigration system will not apply. But after it will, as will the fee to access healthcare, as one can seek medical from the day they set foot on UK ground. This is also true for those who are applying for the settle status after 31st December 2020.

 

With the UK’s exit from Europe, and the impact this will have on the movement of goods and people in the coming months, there is added uncertainty related to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the past seven months, the possibility of crossing borders has been uncertain, depending on the R rate which every week is the subject of a reassessment by the public health authorities, rumours in the Press and sudden decisions to impose quarantine to travellers coming from one country rather than another. What would you like to say to those whose work requires them to cross borders, and cannot see themselves going through quarantine every time? Are there any travel test plans, including one for businesses, to be expected?

Although the whole situation might seem awkward, every country in the world, and in particular in Europe, is taking the same steps as to protect their citizens. It is the same in the UK, where safety is most important for our families and friends. Derogations are already in place for trades that require crossing borders on a regular basis, e.g. lorry or train drivers, pilots, etc.We are looking into implementing ways of testing in case of travel necessity, but to be true, the rule is that we must refrain from travelling as much as possible, and take all measures deemed necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

 

As a result of the pandemic, the economic and social situation is more than tense and a source of concern for the months and even years to come. Households find themselves in serious financial difficulties, due to reduced activity or unemployment. What support, exceptional or not, do households who find themselves in financial difficulties are able to access in the United Kingdom, according to their settled status?

Government measures to support workers and their families through Covid-19 are available for EEA citizens who meet the relevant eligibility criteria. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-employed Income Support Scheme and Statutory Sick Pay. And anyone who is refused access to benefits can lodge an appeal and provide new evidence that they are eligible.

 

The House of Lords passed an amendment to the Immigration Act supporting the request for physical proof of settled status. On the physical proof of settled status, what is today the position of the Government?

Paperless is the trend and, more and more, we are relying upon digital. Paper documents get lost, difficult to provide on the go. We are in the digital era and we must adapt.

Until 31st June 2021, people will be able to travel with their ID card (if EU issued) or passport. Then, from that date, we shall have all in place for the border officers to be able to access individual settled status information through the system we are working on today.

As for the letter one receives regarding acquisition of settled status, it is no proof indeed.

The proof of settled status and right to work in the UK that one may be asked by an employer is provided by the Home office in the form of a personal code, only accessible by the individual. For more information, one shall visit www.gov.uk/view-prove-immigration-status

 

What advice would you like to give to those of our compatriots who have not yet engaged in the process of Settled Status, or are considering moving to the UK? How uncertain is their future as immigrant on British soil?

European citizens are an integral part of our society, culture and community. French are friends, neighbours. By May 2020, 137,300 online applications had been received from French nationals, of which 68% had been granted settled or pre-settled status. They must understand that the rule is changing with the UK leaving the European Union. There is no point in resisting. They must focus on securing their right to stay. The application process is easy, free of charge and they can get help at any stage from both our team and the dedicated 72 charitable organisations.

 

Cécile FaureCécile Faure
redaction@lechomagazine.uk

 

 

 

Settled Status : petit rappel pour les immigrés récalcitrants