New changes are coming to the Home Office front-end services. Some of these changes have been introduced from the 5th November 2018 and others will be phased in by the 29th January 2019.
The Home Office are moving towards an online system that is meant to be easier and more streamlined. Having experienced using the system for the last few days, I can assure you simple and streamlined are not words I would use to describe this new system.
Judith Carter who is a lecturer and in house solicitor at the University of Liverpool has attended one of the pilots for the new EU Settlement system. Below I have detailed her observations and it is an interesting read of the practical approach the Home Office will adopt and again I find that their, easy only need to register one’s name and address to qualify, for pre settled or settled status has now been extended to applicant’s having to demonstrate they have been exercising their treaty rights. I have summarised Judith’s observations.
UKVI’s new front end services – What you need to know
From the 2nd November 2018 the way you make an application for settlement, citizenship or to stay in the UK to work or study has changed. Those wishing to apply in the following categories can use the old or the new system.
·         Tier 1 (Investor)
·         Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
·         Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
·         Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
·         Tier 2 (General)
·         Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): graduate trainee
·         Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): long term staff
·         Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
·         Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
·         Tier 4 (General) student
·         Tier 4 (Child) student
·         Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
·         PBS dependent: partner
·         PBS dependent: child
·         Member of HM forces or their dependents
·         Turkish businessperson or worker
·         Dependent partner of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent partner)
·         Dependent child of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent child)
·         Settle or extend your leave in the UK: Turkish ECAA categories only
·         Settle in the UK: long residence
·         Settle in the UK: child
·         Settle in the UK: partner of a person or parent of a child already settled in the UK
·         Settle in the UK: HM forces category
·         Settle in the UK: refugee or humanitarian protection
·         Settle in the UK: certain categories
·         British citizenship by naturalisation
·         Register for British citizenship as a child under 18
·         Register as a British citizen
·         Update, replace or transfer: biometric residence permit
·         Other leave to remain applications within the Rules (unless noted below)
  • to join family members in the UK as a dependent, other than a PBS dependent, armed forces dependent or ECAA dependent
  • for family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection
  • on the basis of statelessness
  • on the basis as a victim of domestic violence under the specific route
  • making further submissions after a failed protection claim
  • to only enrol your biometric information
  • for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • apply for a certificate of right of abode
  • apply for a registration certificate as an EEA or Swiss national
  • apply for a document certifying permanent residence as an EEA or Swiss national
Some clients applying under the family or private life route, depending on their individual circumstances, may be able to use the new service. During the completion of one’s online application you will be advised about which services you are able to use. But this will only become apparent once the online application as been completed.
From the 9th November 2018 new UKVCAS centres will begin to open with all centres being open by the 30th November 2018. Sopra Steria will manage these centres. There will be 6 core service centres offering free appointments, 50 enhanced service centres offering charged appointments and 1 premium lounge. There will also be the option to purchase added value services such fast track decision-making.
Once the online application is completed the appointment letter will notify clients on how to give their biometrics and provide their supporting documentation.
Under the new service all fees will be paid online, including the Home Office fee, NHS surcharge, biometric fee and you will then be issued with a reference number and directed to the Sopra Steria’s website to book an appointment and opt for any added value services. These added value services will only be available for those using the UKVCAS services.
Clients will be able to choose an appointment within 5 working days of making the application and family members would need to attend at the same time as the main applicant. A responsible adult should accompany children under 16.
Under the new service clients can either take there supporting documentation including their passports with them to their appointment or self upload prior to the appointment. At the end of the appointment all documentation including passport will be handed back, however it is unlikely clients will be able to travel whilst their application is pending.
From January 2019 the Home Office will open dedicated service and support centres to deal with the following cases;
·          some customers applying under family route
·         customers applying to join as a dependant
·         customers applying for family reunion
·         customers applying on the basis of statelessness
·         customers who qualify for a fee waiver or fee exemption
·         customers applying under the domestic violence route
·         those making further submissions after a failed asylum claim
·         some customers who are required to only enrol their biometric information
Paper applications will be phased out eventually and all applications will need to be completed online.
The EU Settlement Scheme pilot
Judith Carter who is a lecturer and in house solicitor at the University of Liverpool has been observing the pilot scheme being run at Liverpool University for staff and students. She was also able to speak to Dan Petriello who is the Assistant Director, European casework and Oliver Carlisle the Head of EU Migration policy. The pilot is the precursor to what we can all expect post March 2019. The article detailed the online system that will be implemented similar to the new Immigration system detailed above however Judith’s discussion is of note.
The application is to be checked at every stage by a human and any documents the Home Office consider dubious or applications seem suspicious the Home Office will ask for original documentation or further documentation to be provided before a decision is made.
The Home Office are not looking for tax or benefit fraud however if the same is flagged up they may, at their discretion, notify the relevant body. The default position is that no documents will be sent but uploaded on to the system unless the documentation exceeds the upload limit or where evidence is requested by the Home Office. Security checks will be run for all applicants and any discrepancies will be flagged relating to any security issues. The Home Office said at the pilot Judith attended that they are not interested in minor offences such as driving offences.
What does pre-settled status mean?
The simple answer is that it is a five-year permit for those who cannot already provide evidence of five years residence in the UK as a settled person. This is only an immigration status. In the statement of intent applicants would still need to provide evidence that they meet the other relevant eligibility requirements for benefits claims for explain.
Oliver Carlisle stated that there is no existing definition of pre settled status in benefits or housing. The intention of the settlement scheme is to give security to EU citizens by regularising their status. EU nationals with pre settled status would still need to satisfy the existing requirements for EEA nationals to qualify for settled status by ensuring they continue to exercise their treaty rights. Oliver went on to say by December 2020 before the end of the implementation period there will probably need to be legislation which will determine what social benefits those with pre settled status will have, in the period before they become settled and after the end of the implementation period when the rights of EEA nationals fall away.
Oliver also confirmed according to Judith’s meeting that those who have not confirmed their status by the end of the grace period, which is June 2021, would have no recognised immigration status afterwards. He also confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement would cover those that enter by December 2020 and only register between then and 30th June 2021 so long as they entered by 23.59pm on the 21st December 2020 and lodged an application.
What does settled status mean?
The definition has not been confirmed by the Home Office and is drawn from the definition currently held by the Department of Work and pensions (DWP) policy. The intention is settled status will be treated as indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration rules. This means they will be granted indefinite leave to remain from the date of the grant of settled status and will be subjected to the habitual residence test in benefits law in the same way British citizens are. EEA nationals who already have indefinite leave to remain will be able to convert to settled status for free and will be able to reside aboard for up to five years without losing their status. They will be in a better position than their counterparts who wait to apply for settled status after the 29th March 2019.
Documentary evidence of status
The Home Office has stated that no hard copy of the indefinite leave to remain will be provided and employers and landlords will be able to access the individual’s status by accessing their account. Individual can print out the status they hold but this cannot be used as proof of their status. This, to me, seems pointless, as they will have to provide access to their employer or landlord to access their online portal in order to confirm their status but the print out will not be acceptable.
The Home Office’s ideology behind this new no document method is that card can get lost, stole and there is limited room for additional information. However non-EEA nationals will be issued with a biometric card.
I personally envisage this paperless system causing huge problems for employers and landlords and also for the individuals themselves. As they will have trouble opening a bank account without formal identification if the print out is not an acceptable form to prove one’s status. It is not only employers and landlords who will require evidence of one’s status, particularly in this new hostile environment.
Meaning of settled status for citizenship
This is interesting because EEA nationals who qualify for permanent residence now normally do not have to wait to apply for naturalisation and can secure citizenship immediately. However under the new EU Settlement system, EEA nationals will be granted settled status from the date they are granted settled status which means if they have been residing in the UK for 20 years previously, they would probably qualified for permanent residence some time ago and under the current system the Home Office would detail the date they qualified for permanent residence. Under the new system, it seems it does not matter how long an individual has resided in the UK before applying for settled status. Oliver indicated to Judith that individuals could continue to apply for a permanent residence document and that will then confirm the date they were free from immigration control to meet the requirements for British citizenship.
It would appear then that individuals who have resided in the UK for many years and have built a life in the UK would be better off applying for permanent residence under the current system as they will probably have qualified for permanent residence some time ago and can apply for British citizenship immediately. Under the new system they would need to have at least one year free of immigration control which basically means that they would have to wait one year after they are granted settled status to apply for British citizenship which is currently the case for individuals who apply for indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration rules. I would imagine that one would then need to meet the residence requirements of not being out of the country for more than 90 days in the last year before applying for naturalisation and 450 days in the full five years relied upon to qualify for settled status.
I, for one, am very concerned about the outcome of the pilot as the majority of individuals who have been resident in the UK for many years may be worst off under the new system than those that enter the UK by the 31st December 2020. If you require Immigration advice or know someone who could do with some guidance, then please contact the office to book a consultation.
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