With the Settled Status Scheme (the Scheme) deadline (30 June 2021) fast approaching EU/EEA citizens who have not applied for Settled or Pre-Settled Status must quickly do so. Especially given that, despite the Scheme being up and running since 2019, some EU/EEA citizens are being refused Settled Status despite living and working for years in the UK.
In April 2021, EU citizens’ rights campaigner Dahaba Ali, aged 27, was shocked to find her application for Settled Status had been rejected. She had been living in the UK since the age of 10 years. Originally from Somalia, Ms Ali and her mother were granted refugee status in the Netherlands before moving to the UK. A campaigner for The3Million, Ms Ali works as a producer at the BBC.
Following her application for herself and her mother in October 2020, Ms Ali received a letter from the Home Office stating:
“Your application has been carefully considered but unfortunately from the information available you do not meet the requirements of the scheme. I am sorry to inform you that your application has therefore been refused.”
It adds that although evidence showed Ms Ali lived in the UK “periodically” between February 2016 and December 2019, this did not meet the five years’ residency requirement.
Ms Ali’s mother’s Settled Status application was granted.
What appears to have happened is that Home Office emails to Ms Ali asking her for more information on her application had gone straight to her spam folder. Furthermore, no texts from the department were received.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Guardian that Ms Ali’s application to the EU Settlement Scheme was refused because she failed to provide evidence of her residence in the UK.
“She is able to reapply to the scheme by 30 June 2021 and we encourage her to get in touch with the helpline where our dedicated staff can support her to provide the requested evidence.
“We made several repeated attempts to contact her over a number of weeks – by email, phone and text – but the evidence requested was not provided. We accept a range of evidence and will work with people on a case-by-case basis to consider other evidence if necessary.”
Ms Ali, who is currently working with an Immigration Solicitor to overturn her Settled Status refusal, shot back:
“I immediately knew it was a mistake and I got help and took to Twitter. But if the process went wrong for me, then what about the people who are so vulnerable they don’t even know their own rights?”
“An obvious example is my own mother who can’t read or write. If her application had been denied, how would she have known? What would have happened to her? I just can’t help but think that if the Home Office had wanted to get hold of me, they would have sent a letter and tried a lot harder than they did with me.
“I think it’s going to be a huge issue after June when employers and landlords start demanding proof of your status. I just didn’t think it would be my case that would highlight it.”
The most common reason Settled Status is refused is the applicant fails to prove that they have been a resident in the UK for five years. In such cases, Pre-Settled Status is granted instead. Pre-Settled Status is more precarious than Settled Status, for example, you must not leave the UK for long stretches to ensure you are eligible for Settled Status in the future. If you have been granted the former when you believe you are eligible for the latter, you should contact an experienced Immigration Lawyer immediately.
Under the Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations, which came into effect after 11pm on 31 January 2020 (EU Exit Day), applicants for the EU Settlement Scheme now have a right of appeal if the decision relating to the appeal was made after EU Exit Day.
If you received a refusal before EU Exit Day, an Immigration Solicitor can advise you on the best steps to take. Options include resubmitting your application or applying for Administrative Review or Judicial Review.
Strict time limits apply to lodging an appeal in the First-Tier Tribunal; if you are in the UK, you have 14 days to do so, whilst those lodging from outside the country have 28 days to appeal their Settled Status decision.
Finding out your Settled Status application has been refused and you have instead been granted Pre-Settled Status is a highly stressful situation, especially as the application deadline nears. Regardless of when you received the decision, contact an experienced Immigration Lawyer straight away. They will advise and represent you and ensure that your application under the Scheme is correctly granted.
Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s best immigration law firms. If you want more information on the EU Settlement Scheme, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.