PRE SETTLED STATUS TO BE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED
On the 17th July new rules were set out in Parliament which confirm that, from September 2023, people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will automatically have their status extended by 2 years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status.
The process will be automated by the Home Office and reflected in the person’s digital status. They will be notified of the extension directly. This will ensure that nobody loses their immigration status if they do not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status.
The change comes following a court found that the EUSS breaches the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU by requiring holders of pre-settled status to make a further application for settled status in order to become lawfully resident.
The Home Office has also announced its intention to take steps to automatically convert as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status once they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an application. During 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK. Safeguards will be in place to ensure that settled status is not wrongly granted.
Another change, which came into place on 9th August 2023, is in the way that late applications to the EUSS – those applying after the deadline of 30th June 2021 of which there had been over 500,000 in the period up to 30th June 2023, are handled.
Prior to this change, applicants with no real right to the EUSS remained able to apply and therefore obtain a Certification of Application (COA) which, when checked via the Employer Checking Service, gives employers a statutory excuse for 6 months – meaning the applicant could legally gain employment. When the 6 month period expired, they could simply apply again and continue working in the UK.
However, from 9th August 2023, applications are now judged first on the validity of the reasons for a late application. Guidance states such valid reasons may include lack of physical or mental capacity, victims of modern slavery or domestic abuse or, if a parent / guardian failed to apply on behalf of a child. This list is non-exhaustive, so the decision rests with the Home Office as to what they will deem to constitute a good reason.
The Home Office will continue to accept late applications made with what they deem to be a good reason, but we except the process to take longer as the application will be first considered on it’s initial merits.
Lord Murray, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Migration and Borders, said:
"Automatic extension of pre-settled status ensures that many EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members in the UK can continue to make a hugely valued contribution to British society without fear of losing their immigration status by simply failing to apply for settled status.
The measures we’ve announced today will also enable us to continue robustly tackling spurious EUSS applications, freeing up resource for legitimate late applicants and status-holders, and delivering for the UK public."
According to the latest published statistics, up to 30 June 2023, there have been more than 7.4 million applications under the EUSS. An estimated 5.6 million people had obtained status under the EUSS, with a further 2.1 million people holding pre-settled status.