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Immigration Enforcement to begin ‘checking’ EU workers from next week

Immigration enforcement in Dundee

EU nationals will be given 28-days to apply for settled status if they are “discovered” by Immigration Enforcement without the correct documentation after next week.

Those who have lived and worked in the UK before Christmas of last year who were born or hold passports to EU member states have until Wednesday June 30 to apply for settled status.

It is thought there is a “backlog” of close to 400,000 applications still to be processed by the Home Office.

So far more than 5.6 million applications have been made by people hoping to remain in the UK post-Brexit including more than 276,000 from EU nationals living in Scotland.

The Government does not have an exact figure for how many European Union citizens currently live and work in the country. The same applies to UK citizens living in Europe.

UK Government Immigration Enforcement agents will be sent to complete “employee checks” on businesses and after next Wednesday, will be able to ask EU nationals for “documentation” proving they have a right to work in the country.

If they are found not to have the correct paper work, a 28-day period will be allowed for them to complete an application, the Home Office has confirmed.

Extension request denied

A Scottish Government plea for the deadline to be extended for applications from European citizens wishing to remain in the UK post-Brexit has been rejected by Westminster.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster was clear that the UK Government would “not be extending the deadline” of June 30 for those wishing to apply for settled status.

Mr Foster said: “I want to be clear, we will not be extending the deadline.

“Put simply, extending the deadline is not the solution to reaching those people who have not yet applied, and we would just be in a position further down the line where we would be asked to extend again, creating more uncertainties.”

Mr Foster added: “From July 1, Immigration Enforcement will introduce a new procedural step for those believed to be EEA citizens or relevant family members who may be eligible for EUSS status on the basis they were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, but failed to apply by 30 June 2021.

“In such cases, Immigration Enforcement will issue a ‘28-day notice for the EUSS’ to advise the individual to take urgent action to establish their lawful status by making a late application to the EUSS.  This will need to be done within 28 days of the issue of the notice.

“The 28-day notice for the EUSS provides contact details for the EU Settlement Resolution Centre and information on how to make an application. It signposts individuals to support services, including technical assistance and translation.  In accordance with Article 18 of the Withdrawal Agreement, no action will be taken in relation to any person with an outstanding EUSS application, whether it was made by the deadline or after it, this is similar to our general approach where non-EEA nationals have outstanding applications.

“With regards to benefits and public funds, as you are aware, the Home Office worked with HMRC and DWP on a data matching exercise to identify people who may not have applied to the scheme, but are eligible. Letters have been sent out to these individuals giving them step by step, practical advice on how to apply to the scheme to protect their existing rights in the UK.

“A second data matching exercise will take place after the June 30 deadline, to identify those still yet to apply to the EUSS.

“The Home Office will write to them, giving a further 28 days to apply to the EUSS, after which we will notify DWP and HMRC of those who have still not applied.

“Those departments will then make a casework decision based on the circumstances of the case.

“Employers and Landlords do not need to conduct retrospective checks on EEA Citizens who are in continuous employment or rental agreements after June 30. ”

“However, if they do come across someone who hasn’t applied, they should encourage them to apply as quickly as possible and can contact Home Office Checking Services to obtain a reasonable excuse to continue employing or renting to individuals.”

Extension should be made

SNP Ochil and South Perthshire MP John Nicolson said: “Five years to the day since the Brexit referendum, in which Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union and exactly a week until the EU Settlement Scheme deadline, I urge the UK Government to extend the deadline or grant EU nationals automatic indefinite leave-to-remain. Scotland is their home.

“They are our family, our friends and our neighbours. They are vital to our NHS and, in my constituency of Ochil and South Perthshire, they are invaluable to our rural economy.”

Cabinet secretary for external affairs, Angus Robertson, added: “It is unacceptable that, with eight days to go to the EU settlement scheme deadline, there is now a backlog of more than 300,000 unresolved cases.

Angus Robertson

“The Scottish Government has consistently been clear that the deadline should be extended.

“It is my view and that of the Scottish Government that EU citizens who live in the UK should not need to apply to retain the rights that they have had to live, work and study in Scotland. The EU settlement scheme should be replaced with a declarative scheme that automatically allows EU citizens to retain their rights. At the very least, the UK Government should extend the deadline for applying to the EU settlement scheme.”