10 January 2019
Anneliese Dodds, Labour MP for Oxford East, received a letter today from Caroline Nokes, the Minister for Immigration, making clear that the main requirement for EU citizens and their family members applying for UK immigration status will be continuous residence. Today the government’s immigration guidance was also amended accordingly.
Anneliese’s interest in the matter arose due to strong constituency interests, having received correspondence from EU nationals who were very worried about their residence status after Brexit. The Oxford MP had been concerned that the government’s published immigration rules – for EU nationals applying for ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme – conflicted with promises previously made by the Prime Minister. The government’s published guidance previously stated that an applicant would be refused on the grounds of suitability if they are subject to a deportation or exclusion order under EEA treaty rights. These rights state that if a European citizen has been living in the UK for over 3 months, that they need to be either working, studying, or self-sufficient.
In the past, ‘treaty rights’ provisions have been used to target vulnerable groups who might find it difficult to prove that they were exercising treaty rights. For example, EU nationals with health problems, those who were in between jobs, and those who have recently escaped domestic violence would have all been at risk of losing their right to live in the UK. This was despite the Prime Minister’s previous promise that no additional criteria, beyond the prevention of criminality, would be applied to EU nationals seeking settled status.
The government’s clarification has come after Anneliese sustained pressure for clarification. After having previously criticised Theresa May’s deal in the House of Commons for remaining ambiguous on the rights of EU nationals after Brexit and having received correspondence from the Prime Minister that the main requirement for eligibility would be continuous residence, the Home Office’s immigration guidance online remained unclear. Today the immigration rules were finally amended, removing exercising treaty rights as grounds for which an applicant can be refused ‘settled status’.
Anneliese has commented:
“The government’s position on EU Settlement Scheme requirements is still more ambiguous than I’d like but I am relieved that they have at least finally ruled out denying settled status because of EEA Treaty conditions. It shouldn’t have taken this long but I am pleased to see the changes.”