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UNITED KINGDOM – Late EU Settlement Scheme applications to face further scrutiny from UKVI
August 14, 2023
Amendments to the EUSS guidance have been made in alignment with the Statement of Changes (HC 1496).
Clarification of Validity Requirements
Late EU Settlement Scheme applications will face further scrutiny from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The requisite for applications to have been made by the relevant deadline (unless delays can be reasonably justified) will become a validity requirement from 9th August 2023. Previously, this fell under eligibility. As a result, if applications do not meet this requirement, the application could face immediate rejection by the UKVI. The applicant would not be able to work or stay in the UK without alternative lawful permission.
Where an application is made on or after 9 August 2023 (and is after relevant required date):
- If delays are unaccounted for or do not fall under reasonable grounds in line with the guidance, an application can be rejected immediately.
- If reasonable grounds for the delay are given but no evidence is provided, the caseworker should request this from the applicant and allow 14 days to provide this.
- If the caseworker believes evidence to be inauthentic, they can immediately reject the application.
The applicant’s rejection letter should explain if any of the above apply. Furthermore, it is also a validity requirement that joining family members must not be illegal entrants.
Reasonable grounds for delayed applications
Applicants will no longer be ‘given the benefit of the doubt’ when applying late under reasonable grounds. Any supporting evidence submitted must be considered “objectively verifiable” by the caseworker.
Further applications will be scrutinised following the rejection or refusal of their initial application, as applicants may need to explain why further document requests were not responded to for the first application.
Reasonable grounds for delays now include:
- Applicants who were exempt from immigration control at the relevant deadline. Evidence of exemption dates will need to be provided
- Applicants holding Indefinite Leave (who have been absent from the UK for three years, for example)
- An applicant over the age of 18 who, at the required date was under 18 and unaware that an application should have been made on their behalf (e.g. for children in foster care). The application should be made within a reasonable period of the applicant turning 18
- Where the applicant has ‘significant, ongoing care and support needs’
- Applicants with serious medical conditions or undergoing significant medical treatment at the relevant date. Evidence should show that the application was made as soon as this same treatment / condition ended.
- Where abusive relationships have taken place, the applicant needs to provide supporting documents from social services, police, doctors etc.
The following can no longer be considered as reasonable ground:
- Technical issues (no internet, lack of applicant’s computer or English language skills)
- Lack of support with the application due to COVID-19 restrictions
- Forgetting the deadline due to personal commitments (e.g. study or work)
Relevant Terms and Evidence
For applications where the “required date” is not 31st June 2021, the guidance has clarified application types and evidence required. For example:
- If the EUSS Family Permit of an applicant had more than three months validity upon entry to the UK, the required date is prior to the expiry of extant leave to enter
- ‘Zambrano’ and ‘Surinder Singh’ applicants’ required date is before 9 August 2023, unless they have an EUSS Family Permit on that basis
Family members of a relevant sponsor (applying within three months of arrival in the UK) will need to provide evidence, such as stamped inbound travel tickets, copy of stamped passport pages.
If an EEA citizen has been granted status under the scheme, subsequent applications by a relative will have sufficiently evidenced the former’s identity, nationality and continuity of residence.
If you have any compliance queries on the above or which are more nuanced please contact us directly on [email protected]. For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.