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The Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is open to applications from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and family members, who were resident in the UK before 1 January 2021.

The main EUSS application deadline is 30 June 2021.

The EUSS will remain operational for many years beyond that date. For example, it will continue to receive late applications and applications for settled status made by people initially granted pre-settled status. A few groups of people are eligible to apply to the EUSS later than 30 June, notably people overseas coming to join family members in the UK.

Applying without a valid passport or identity card

To apply to the EUSS, applicants require proof of their identity and nationality – typically, an unexpired passport or national identity card.

Some people have had difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic obtaining or renewing identity documents from their national authorities and are concerned that this will affect their ability to apply to the EUSS before the deadline.

Some countries have extended the validity period of their documents. Where this is the case an individual might be able to use such a document in support of their EUSS application.

Furthermore, the Home Office can accept alternative proof of identity and nationality “where the applicant is unable to obtain or produce the required document due to circumstances beyond their control or due to compelling or compassionate reasons.”

People wishing to rely on alternative evidence must contact the Home Office’s EUSS Resolution Centre in the first instance.

Rights of people whose applications have not been decided by 30 June

People who have made a valid application which remains outstanding on or after 1 July will have their status and rights protected until they receive a final decision. They can use their Certificate of Application to demonstrate their status and entitlements after 30 June.

The Home Office says that employers and landlords should give people “every opportunity” to demonstrate their ongoing eligibility to work and rent whilst their application is under consideration and be mindful of avoiding unlawful discrimination.

Home Office guidance on accepting late applications

Anyone who is eligible under the EUSS can make a late application if there are reasonable grounds for their failure to apply sooner. But they will be unlawfully resident in the UK for as long as they do not have a status under the EUSS or other part of the immigration rules.

The Home Office’s caseworker guidance provides some non-exhaustive examples of scenarios that will normally constitute reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. Examples include applications made on behalf of children, people with physical or mental capacity and/or care or support needs, people with serious medical conditions, and people in abusive or controlling relationships or situations; and where there are other compelling practical or compassionate circumstances for missing the deadline. The guidance also gives soe examples of circumstances when being unaware of the need to apply could be accepted as reasonable grounds.

Caseworkers are instructed to take a “flexible and pragmatic approach” and to give applicants the benefit of any doubt, for the time being.

Consequences of missing the application deadline

From 1 July, eligible people who haven’t applied to the EUSS, and people who have an outstanding late application under consideration, will not have a lawful immigration status in the UK. This will have significant implications for their entitlements in the UK. They will be affected by the compliant/hostile environment policies directed at people without immigration permission (e.g. no right to work, rent, access welfare benefits, have a bank account or driving licence).

There is some uncertainty about how authorities will respond to cases involving people who haven’t applied to the EUSS from 1 July in practice.

The Home Office has said that if Immigration Enforcement staff encounter people potentially within the scope of the EUSS, they will give them a 28-day opportunity to apply and not normally take any enforcement action during that period. The guidance does not specify what the approach will be towards people who are refused status or fail to apply to the EUSS.

Similarly the Home Office has not yet confirmed its guidance to employers and landlords about conducting right to work/rent checks after 30 June and what their legal responsibilities will be in respect of people who haven’t applied to the EUSS. However, the current guidance is clear that employers and landlords will not need to conduct retrospective checks on whether an existing employee/tenant has obtained EUSS status.

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