MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT FOR EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME PRE-SETTLED STATUS HOLDERS
On 17 July 2023 Home Office announced important policy changes for holders of pre-settled status under EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The policy change has been introduced following the recent High Court judgement. The High Court ruling confirmed that it is unlawful for Home Office to require that pre-settled status holders make another EUSS application before the initial 5-year permission expires.
In December 2022 we published our article commenting on the High Court decision R (Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens' Rights Agreements) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3274 (Admin). You may wish to read it for more background information.
The impact of Home Office announcement is significant due to the large numbers of EUSS pre-settled status holders. According to the published data, an estimated 5.6 million Europeans and their family members had secured their rights in the UK through the EUSS, with an estimated 2.1 million holding pre-settled status and an estimated 3.5 million holding settled status.
The full updates are published in the Home Office Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules 17 July 2023.
EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME POLICY CHANGES ANNOUNCED 17 JULY 2023 – 2 YEARS AUTOMATIC EXTENSION
From September 2023 people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their status extended by 2 years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status.
New Immigration Rules, laid in Parliament on 17 July 2023, 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. This will give extra time to upgrade to settled status.
The process will be automated by the Home Office and reflected in the person's digital online status and they will be notified of the extension directly.
The Home Office further announced that they intend 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.
In their press release on 17 July 2023 Home Office also informs that during 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK. Home Office further added that safeguards will be in place to ensure that settled status is not wrongly granted.
The Home Office press release also announces that for those resident in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the range of measures laid before Parliament on 17 July 2023 will make sure that the Home Office can ensure the integrity of the EUSS. Home Office further stressed that those measures will be protecting EUSS against fraud and abuse and the measures include changes to the way reasonable grounds for late applications to the scheme are considered.
The press release on 17 July 2023 also states that the measures 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.'
The Home Office has also announced that they 'will be
closing 2 temporary transitional routes, both of which fall outside
the UK's Withdrawal Agreement commitments'. Route
closures – to close the EUSS on 8 August 2023 to new
two routes not covered by the Agreements: family member of a qualifying British citizen (on their return to the UK having exercised free movement rights in the EEA or Switzerland, known as 'Surinder Singh' cases) and primary carer of a British citizen (known as 'Zambrano' cases).
Dependent relatives – to include within the EUSS the child of a durable partner where the child has turned 18 since they were granted pre-settled status under the scheme.
The changes in respect of the Immigration Rules for the EUSS family permit in Appendix EU (Family Permit) close the EUSS family permit on 8 August 2023 to new applications by a family member of a qualifying British citizen, in line with the closure of the EUSS to such applications from that date.
VALIDITY OF EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME APPLICATIONS AS PRELIMINARY ISSUE
Valid EUSS application – to make meeting the deadline for the application (or, having reasonable grounds for the delay in making an application) a validity rather than an eligibility requirement. This is introduced to enable the Secretary of State to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for a late application as a preliminary issue, before going on to consider whether a valid application meets the relevant eligibility and suitability requirements. Home Office will not reassess the validity of an application which has already been confirmed as valid by the issuing of a Certificate of Application.
Valid EUSS application – to prevent a valid application to the EUSS as a joining family member being made by an illegal entrant to the UK, thereby reinforcing the Government's approach to tackling illegal migration.
REASONS FOR THE EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME POLICY CHANGES
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 content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.