By Dr Chiara Mancuso, Head of Breytenbachs Level 3 & Appeals Department
We are pleased to inform our clients that the Home Office have recently amended their caseworkers’ guidance on late applications under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Current Rules for Late Applications under the EUSS
The EU Settlement Scheme was introduced by the Home Office in 2019 to preserve the rights of the EEA nationals and their family members who had been resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020,
According to the current legislation, EEA nationals and their family members who had lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years before 31 December 2020 can make an application for settled status, which is equivalent to indefinite leave to remain. To apply for settled status, applicants needed to primarily show that they had not left the UK for more than 6 months in any continuous 12-month period during the 5-year period. If EEA nationals or their family members have resided in the UK for less than 5 years, they can apply for a 5-year limited leave to remain, known as pre-settled status. People with pre-settled status can make an application for settled status when they reach the 5-year residence.
The deadline for submitting an application under the EUSS was 30 June 2021. Applications submitted after this date are considered by the Home Office at their discretion and approved only if there are reasonable grounds for their delay in making their application. The guidance describes some circumstances in which the Home Office will usually accept that a person has reasonable grounds for their delay in making their application. The list of cases is not exhaustive, and every case must be considered in light of its particular circumstances and the evidence provided.
New Rules on Late Applications under the EUSS
Further to a change in the immigration law introduced in September 2023, the Home Office initially reduced the number of ‘reasonable excuses’ that they would accept to justify a late application. For instance, EEA nationals or their family members who were granted permanent residence before 31 December 2020, but who had failed to submit an EUSS application by 30 June 2021, were no longer considered as having a reasonable excuse which could justify a late application. This has resulted in a sharp increase in the refusal of applications submitted by many people who had lived in the UK for many years and had previously obtained permanent residence but who were simply unaware that they were required to apply under the Scheme,
According to the amended guidance, published on 16 January 2024, the Home Office recognised that there may be circumstances in which a person has provided information and evidence that they had a reasonable belief that they did not need to apply earlier to the EU Settlement Scheme or a reasonable basis for being unaware that they needed to apply. In either case, they have now applied without further delay. Relevant factors to consider, based on credible information and supporting evidence, may include that the applicant:
- Is a first-time applicant to the EU Settlement Scheme with a residence document issued under the EEA Regulations, indefinite leave to enter or remain under another route or long continuous UK residence identified by the automated checks of tax and benefits records.
- Has an EEA national spouse, civil partner, durable partner or other close family member or members who applied in time to the scheme but believed that they could rely on a residence document issued under the EEA Regulations
- The person has a compliant positive immigration history.
- Has received incorrect advice from an employer or landlord since the end of the grace period on 30 June 2021 as to their right to work or rent in the UK without EU Settlement Scheme status.
- The person has travelled in and out of the UK since 30 June 2021 without being signposted to the scheme.
How Breytenbachs can help you with your late application under the EUSS
Navigating the EU Settlement Scheme is a complicated process. That is why it is best to work with an experienced immigration agency. Breytenbachs is a Level 3 OISC-registered immigration agency specialising in UK immigration. Our highly qualified consultants can provide expert advice and guidance. We ensure that you meet all the requirements and increase your chances of success.
Late applications under the EUSS remain complex. We advise you to contact one of our senior consultants to receive proper legal advice.
Keep in mind that this article provides information for general understanding and does not constitute professional advice.