As many as 80,000 EU nationals could lose their right to live in the UK due to errors in EU Settlement Scheme applications, according to data by City law firm Bates Wells, shared with City A.M. this afternoon.
Bates Wells warns that many of these applicants will be unable to get a new job or move house, some could lose their jobs or even face deportation, particularly since many of the turned-down applications may not be appealed.
The Home Office received an unexpectedly high number of applications for EU Settled Status, which has led to considerable processing backlogs.
Bates Wells said those who applied just ahead of the deadline may not be able to reapply and the Home Office is likely to be less pro-active in light of the enormous backlog.
Applicants anxiously awaiting a decision or support have struggled to get in touch with the Home Office, with calls and emails going unanswered, the law firm added.
Void or withdrawn
In addition to the 79,800 ‘invalid’ applications, a further 80,800 were declared ‘void’ or were withdrawn.
“These are potentially huge numbers of people who have made the UK their home and are struggling to secure the documents required to continue with day to day activities such as changing jobs or moving house,” explained Matthew James, associate at Bates Wells in the City.
“Even if that 80,000 figure is reduced by 90% that is an incredible number of people who are going to have their lives completely and traumatically, upended,” he added.
“These application errors could be hugely costly and people may face the wrath of the hostile environment policies,” his colleague Chetal Patel, a partner at Bates Wells, noted.
“Individuals may face hostility with employers and landlords raising new exclusions wrongly,” she concluded.
Home Office response
When approached by City A.M., a Home Office spokesperson said: “These claims are scaremongering and do not represent the huge success of the EU Settlement Scheme which has to date received more than 6m applications – with more than 5.1m grants of status.
“Applications are withdrawn or voided for a variety of reasons – none of which are the Home Office’s fault. For example an application will be voided if it has been made by someone ineligible for the scheme, such as a British citizen.”
“The Home Office is accepting late applications where there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. The Government continues to use every possible channel to encourage those who are eligible to apply for the EUSS and secure the status they are entitled,” the Home Office spokesperson concluded.