Thank you for contacting me on the issue of the effects of Coronavirus on the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Government recognises the importance of the status of EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals living and working in the UK as we leave the EU. I welcome the valuable contribution they make to our economy and society.
According to the latest published statistics up to the end of March 2020, there have been more than 3.46 million applications and over 3.14 million applications concluded since the Settlement Scheme began. I draw your attention to the following paragraph:
‘Overall, as of 31 March 2020, the total number of applications that have been concluded was more than 3.1 million (3,147,000). Of these, 58% were granted settled status and 41% were granted pre-settled status. Of the remaining applications, 23,900 received a withdrawn or void outcome, 10,000 were invalid and 600 were refused. Of the total refusals, 98% were refused on eligibility grounds and 2% were refused on suitability grounds.’
Based on these figures, the application process for Settlement is functioning and the message to EU citizens is clear: you are our friends and we want you to stay.
As you point out, applicants and their family members have months before the deadline of 30 June 2021 to apply. I believe that this is a reasonable deadline and assure you that the Government is working hard to process further applications and ensure fair access to the application service. Applicants only need to complete three key steps – prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions, and in the light of the pandemic, can do so online through the “EU Exit ID Document check app”.
Where it has become difficult to answer inbound calls because due to temporary office changes during this pandemic, I am informed that the 250 staff of the Settlement Resolution Centre will continue to respond to email enquiries call applicants back when required.
On your point about vulnerable communities, additional support is available for those who do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to apply online through Assisted Digital, which can help over the telephone. Communications materials have been translated into 26 languages and alternative formats can also be requested.
The Government will reinstate support services and application routes to their original capacity in line with public health guidance and I am confident that this approach is fair and will work. I also welcome that the Government has made clear that where a person eligible for leave under the EU Settlement Scheme has reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.
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