Employment and Immigration Update - EU nationals still unaware of EUSS

25 September 2020

EU nationals currently living in the UK will be able to remain after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020, but they are required to apply for pre-settled or settled status. As at 31 August 2020, there had been 3,910,100 applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), but nobody knows how many people still need to apply.

A worrying new report from the Social Market Foundation found that a significant number of EU migrants are still unaware that they need to apply to the EUSS. The report is based on interviews with mainly lower skilled migrants in the Fenland area.

  1. Barely half of the migrants interviewed were even aware of the EUSS.
  2. Only 7% of interviewees said that government communication and media reporting were a major source of information about the EUSS. Most relied on their friends (39%), family (20%) and colleagues or employer (18%) for information on immigration rules.
  3. English language is still a barrier to applications. This was actually more of a problem for migrants who had been in the UK for over 10 years.
  4. Many migrants did not understand the terms of the EUSS. Particularly worrying was a lack of appreciation that even once you have pre-settled status you will still need to reapply in due course to obtain settled status.
  5. Estimates of how many EU nationals are in the UK have significantly undercounted the number. This is because the only data available has been the International Passenger Survey. This does not count people who say on arrival in the UK that they plan to stay for less than a year. Many EU nationals initially stated they were only coming for a short period, but once they were here, they decided to stay for longer. Therefore they would not have been included in the figures.

We are sorry to say that the report reflects our experience, in that we are still finding employers who lack awareness of the EUSS and what their staff need to do to apply. Whilst readers of this newsletter will potentially see the EUSS as old news, we do need to keep spreading the word. We would encourage all of our clients and contacts to ensure you raise the topic of the EUSS with your wider network. It really is incumbent on all of us to ensure EU nationals living in the UK know what to do to protect their rights.

The deadline for applications to the EUSS is 30 June 2021. However, we would advise making applications as soon as possible now and in particular before the end of this year. Remember that even if you hold a permanent residence card, or have been here for a very long time, you still need to apply to the EUSS.

This article is from the September 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For more details regarding any of the matters covered in this update, please contact Clare Hedges or Janice Leggett in our Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at September 2020.