EU national plea over status rules
The deadline for EU nationals to apply to the UK government EU Settlement Scheme is fast approaching.
Let me firstly state that I don’t think that EU nationals should have to apply to enjoy the rights and freedoms that many have benefited from for decades but, legally, we are where we are.
The reality is that those EU nationals who wish to remain in the UK should have started making an application for settled or pre-settled status by Wednesday, June 30.
Those who have been continually resident for five years should be granted settled status, which effectively means they can stay in the UK indefinitely, and those who don’t yet have five years continuous residency will be given pre-settled status. When they reach five years, this can be converted to settled status.
Originally the UK government wanted applicants to pay for the privilege of being able to stay where many have called home for nearly 50 years, but thankfully buckled after significant political pressure.
We know that many have not yet applied for the scheme for a number of reasons, and there is a significant amount of outreach work currently taking place to ensure that as many people as possible get through the application process by the deadline.
In the interests of fairness and balance, I should add that some 5.2 million applicants are thought to have applied to date, but we are in sight of the cliff edge and the reality is that the UK Home Office has no idea how many people may still have to apply.
Throughout this process I have been struck by the number of people who have sought assistance from my office who thought that they didn’t need to apply, as they already had historic documentation from the Home Office.
In almost every case, these constituents, many of whom have lived in Perthshire since the 1970s, were told that they did indeed need to apply to stay in their own homes.
I guess this is a plea of sorts. If you are an EU national who is living in Scotland and you have not already checked with the Home Office if you need to apply, then I would urge you to get in contact with them as a matter of urgency.
It is estimated that there could be tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people who could be left without valid immigration status from July 1.
We know that those people who have not yet applied are likely to be those from more vulnerable groups and those with other barriers to applying, so as scheme enters its final weeks, it will be increasingly impossible for the government to be confident that they have reached everyone in time.
Alongside additional paperwork at the border for goods and services, a reduction in seasonal labour, reduced sales of our high quality produce and visa requirements for longer trips to EU countries, the EU Settlement Scheme makes you wonder why they were insistent to leave in the first place.