Many EU nationals in our area and across the country have endured incredible stress and anxiety over the uncertainty they have faced over the last few years.
The Government’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), which allows EU nationals who have been in the UK since before 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status or pre-settled status, will close for applications on 30 June 2021 – however I have been assured the Home Office will continue to take late applications.
I believe it is crucial that all those entitled to settled status are assured that they will not lose their rights or be detained if they miss the deadline. Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister raised this in Parliament recently, which you can see here. He has also called on the Home Office to put immediate plans in place to avoid anyone slipping through the cracks and raised our concerns that experts on the frontline are raising concerns so close to the deadline.
Pressure on an application system with a fixed deadline is just one of the reasons I have long supported a declaratory scheme for protecting the rights of EU nationals in the UK – meaning EU nationals and family members who meet the eligibility criteria would automatically have their rights to continue to live and work in the UK granted. I believe this is the only way to prevent the risk of another Windrush-type scenario, with potentially thousands of EU nationals unnecessarily criminalised.
I also recognise that the lack of physical proof of status is a concern for many who have secured settled or pre-settled status. I agree that this should be provided free of charge and I voted for an amendment to the Government’s Immigration Bill last year to require this. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected by the Government and removed from the Bill.
EU nationals enrich our society and contribute a great deal to our services and industries. Their future here must be secure. This issue remains a priority for me, both now and into the future, and I will continue to monitor the Government’s treatment of EU nationals and their families.