Citizens' rights have changed

01 July 2021 Our rights have changed

We have retained our rights to be treated equally to UK citizens, this includes equal:

 

These rights are conditional on your current immigration status (see our summary rights table). 

We invite you to read the whole resource below and bookmark this page for future reference. Feedback are welcome through our contact us page.

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 The UK's participation in EU free movement has ended 

Even though the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, free movement legislation continued during the ‘transition period’ to 31 December 2020, and then during the ‘grace period’ to 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021 the legal landscape is now fundamentally different.

 Everyone now needs PERMISSION to live, work or study in the UK 


Everyone that is, except British, Irish and some Commonwealth citizens

But everyone else needs it - whether you have lived here for decades, or whether you are planning to come to the UK for the first time at some point.

This permission can take the form of:
 

  • leave to enter/remain (new arrivals to the UK will get this in the form of, for example, a skilled worker visa, a student visa, or a visit visa - for many nationalities, a visitor visa is granted automatically at the border as long as border officials accept that a person is coming for a maximum 6-month visit)
     

  • indefinite leave to enter/remain (some EU citizens might have this from years ago - see this Government website for the difference between indefinite leave to remain and permanent residence)
     

  • pre-settled status (leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme, related to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement)
     

  • settled status (indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme, related to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement)
     

  • A ‘Certificate of Application’ or other Home Office communication showing that an application to the EU Settlement Scheme was made before 30 June 2021 - the applicant will be treated as being lawfully resident in the UK until the application is finally decided (including appeals)
     

  • EU Settlement Scheme family permit (allows joining family members to travel to the UK for up to 6 months, work and study in the UK, and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once inside the UK - see this Government website for more information)

(note, the above is not an exhaustive list, the UK immigration system is very complex)

But the following do NOT count:
 

  • a blue Permanent Residence document (no matter how recently you got it, or how much hassle you went through to get it - see this Government website for the difference between indefinite leave to remain and permanent residence)
     

  • a blue Residence Certificate document
     

  • any EEA residence cards (although they can still be used to show at the UK border if your (pre-)settled status is linked to it - see this Government website for more information)
     

 A new digital-only immigration status is launched 

EEA and Swiss citizens currently do not get any physical proof of pre-settled or settled status.

Until 30 June 2021, they could show their passport or national identity card as proof of their rights.

But now, proving pre-settled or settled status is a digital process which involves a complex set of steps, which will be extremely difficult for many people.

Eventually the Home Office wants to roll out this digital-only status to all migrants.

Which is why we have been campaigning for a physical proof of status for all for a long time. See our current campaign action #ProofEqualityNow! - please do join and write to your MP, and peers who have previously supported our campaign for physical proof!
 

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Click to see our summary table of rights for those who have status, those who are waiting for status, and those who have not yet applied for status. 

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 Life gets complicated for those who applied before the 30 June deadline but are still waiting 

Many people applied for pre-settled or settled status before 30 June 2021, but are still waiting for a decision. Many have been waiting weeks, months or even longer than a year. (See this blog for data on this). We receive regular emails of people feeling anxious, panicked, in limbo because their life is on hold while they wait.

Without a grant of status, someone cannot generate a ‘share code’ to prove their rights.

So how will they be able to move and rent a new flat? How will they be able to take on a new job? How will they prove they can study without having to pay really expensive international fees? We wrote to the Government, and they replied saying people who applied before the deadline would be able to prove their rights with their Certificate of Application.

We wrote back (and wrote again to chase them) saying sometimes after submitting an application, there's a long delay before getting a Certificate of Application (CoA), and asking what happens then?  Just before the deadline we received this reply, which says that the Home Office will tell people how to evidence that they submitted an in-time application while still waiting for the CoA. The Home Office also said they will 'in due course' allow people with a CoA to use the 'View and Prove' service to generate a share code.

 

While we mention Certificates of Application - if you've not yet been granted status, then please check that you have one! Some people think they are waiting for a decision, but it turns out that their application didn't submit properly. If you think you have applied, PLEASE check your emails (and your spam / junk folder) to look for one that has a PDF attached which says you have a Certificate of Application.  And if you can't find this, contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre (look for the 'Get Help' section on this page.

If you or someone you know has any problems accessing your rights, please report them to us here.

 Life is challenging for those who have applied after the 30 June deadline and are waiting for a decision

People who have a Certificate of Application dated after 30 June 2021 do not have a provable lawful status in the UK - this means that they do not have the right to work, rent or access benefits or free NHS hospital treatment. They only regain a status and their rights once their pre-settled or settled status is granted.

 

However:

  • They should not lose their existing job if they can show a Certificate of Application within 28 days of being told to apply by their employer or a Home Office enforcement officer
     

  • Similarly they should not be evicted from a current rental property if they can show a Certificate of Application within 28 days of being told to apply by their landlord or a Home Office enforcement officer
     

  • They should not have existing benefits terminated if they can show a Certificate of Application within 28 days of being told to apply by the DWP, a local authority or a Home Office enforcement officer
     

  • They should not be charged for NHS hospital treatment if they can show a Certificate of Application - though if their status is ultimately refused they will be liable for any treatment costs. 

If you or someone you know has any problems accessing your rights, please report them to us here.

 Life becomes difficult for those who have not applied yet 

For those who could not submit an application in time, or did not know they had to, life will become difficult - but not necessarily straight away.

 

The problems will start the first time they try to move house. Or change jobs. Or open or switch their bank account. Or receive some hospital treatment.  Or receive housing assistance, or Universal Credit. They’ll be asked to prove their status, and they will not be able to do so.

 

Firstly, the person or organisation checking their status will refuse them their rental property, job, bank account, hospital treatment, housing or benefits.

Secondly, it’s possible that the Home Office could be informed. If the Home Office doesn’t consider that there’s a ‘reasonable ground’ to make a late application, then removal from the UK becomes likely.

See the EU Settlement Scheme Guidance (pages 27 to 44) which explains the circumstances in which the Home Office should consider that there are reasonable grounds to make a late application. It is anticipated that the Home Office will be generous with their interpretation of reasonable grounds, so anyone who has not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme but believes they are eligible should submit an application as soon as possible.

For help with this, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-community-support-for-vulnerable-citizens/list-of-organisations and https://www.the3million.org.uk/useful-links.


Once a late application is submitted, people do not have the right to rent, work or access to benefits until their status is granted (though see the section above for existing jobs, rentals and benefits).

If you or someone you know has any problems applying for status, please report them to us here.

 Those with pre-settled status have an insecure status 


There are many problems with pre-settled status.

 

  • It expires, and failure to apply for full settled status before expiry means automatic loss of status. In this case the person faces all the same consequences as someone who didn’t apply in time, as described above.
     

  • It does not entitle people to Universal Credit if they fall on hard times (they may be able to get help via other, more complex ways - but pre-settled status itself does not entitle people to Universal Credit. Please also note that the Court of Appeal has overturned this, but the Government is appealing at the Supreme Court - see this page by CPAG (the claimants), and this Citizens' Advice page for more details, and important advice for claimants with pre-settled status).
     

  • Confusing calculations of absences mean that some people might actually be rejected for full settled status even if they apply in time, and there will be no way of fixing that retrospectively.  If you're out of the UK with pre-settled status, check here how your absences from the UK may affect your ability to achieve settled status.

If you or someone you know has any problems accessing your rights or applying for status, please report them to us here.

 Exercising your family reunion rights 

The Withdrawal Agreement protects the right to be joined by certain family members at any time. This includes spouses and partners (as long as they were your spouse/partner before 31 December 2020), dependent parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.

Since 1 July 2021, however, this has become a lot more difficult in practice.
 

  • Before 30 June, parents and grandparents were ‘assumed’ to be dependent, but now dependency has to be proved, which is a far more difficult process. Moving your widowed mum from Lisbon to London is now sadly very much harder than from Edinburgh to Eastbourne, despite the Withdrawal Agreement promises.
     

  • See this Government web page for more details: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/join-EU-EEA-Swiss-family-member

If you or someone you know has any problems accessing your rights or applying for status, please report them to us here.