A significant number of Europeans in the UK over the age of 65 did not apply to join the EU Settlement Program (EUSS) by the deadline, a parliamentary report has revealed, warning that this could make thousands of EU nationals of retirement age vulnerable to UK harsh environment policies.
Only 2% of all installation applications have been submitted by people over 65, a percentage which probably does not reflect the population of older EU nationals living in the UK. Charities helping older Europeans to apply said they had “encountered many people who had no cellphones, no digital access and inappropriate or non-existent documents,” and the report warned that people who had difficulty with the digital technology required to apply were more likely to the application deadline at the end of last month.
The House of Lords Committee on European Affairs report called on the government to ensure that support remains in place to help late applicants obtain their status.
“The fact that only 2% of applicants are over 65 suggests that older people may have been overlooked or just couldn’t apply before the deadline. These people need more comprehensive legal guarantees to ensure that late requests do not count against them to secure their right to stay here, ”said Lord Kinnoull, chairman of the committee. The Citizens’ Rights Report noted a particular concern for Italian nationals who had emigrated to Britain after World War II.
The report echoes repeated calls by campaigners for the program’s digital-only approach to be abandoned and for an option of a physical document proving status and rights in Britain to be granted.
“Without physical documents, EU citizens living here can have difficulty obtaining rentals, for example. Our government has welcomed the EU’s decision to issue a physical document to all British citizens in Europe while resisting calls to do the same for EU citizens in Britain. Ministers must explain this contradiction, ”Kinnoull added.
Greater clarity was needed to ensure that those making late requests were protected, the report warned. This was especially vital for the 2 million people who have been granted the more temporary right to stay in the UK, the pre-established status, as they will have to reapply for the established status if they wish to stay, and many of them are likely to miss their application deadlines.
Many of these concerns were also highlighted in a separate study released this week by the Law Centers Network, focusing on the groups of applicants who have struggled to apply for status. An analysis of over 1,000 complex EUSS cases, assisted free of charge by the network of 16 charity-funded legal centers, revealed the proportion of long-term residents, who had been living in the UK for more than 20 years, seeking relief. help with their requests. had increased considerably.
Julie Bishop, director of the Law Centers Network, said: “Some people still find it difficult to apply for permanent resident status, but the Home Office knows little about who they are and the EUSS was not designed to. them. Late requests can be made, but the Interior Ministry alone decides to accept them.
“Windrush has shown us that we cannot rely on their discretionary decisions. Today we call on the Interior Ministry to publish the criteria for accepting late applications. “
A government spokesperson said: “We are delighted that there have been over 6 million EU settlement assistance requests and over 5.1 million status grants as of June 30. The Citizens’ Rights Report recognizes this as an important achievement.
“The report also recognizes concerns about the rights of UK nationals living in the EU. The UK government will continue to work with the EU to ensure that these rights are respected, as the UK has done for EU citizens living in the UK.