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UK Immigration Update – After the Deadline: Considerations for Employers

What to do if you have missed the deadline for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme

The deadline for European nationals to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) passed on 30 June 2021.  The EUSS is open to applications from EU and Swiss nationals, and their family members, who were resident in the UK before 1 January 2021.

The Home Office has confirmed that late applications will only be considered if there are “reasonable grounds” for the delay.  A non-exhaustive list of reasonable grounds has been published and the Home Office has said that it will adopt a “pragmatic and flexible approach” to late cases, and that it will “look for reasons to grant applications, not to refuse them”.

These grounds include: 

  • applicants with serious medical conditions;
  • victims of modern slavery or abusive relationships;
  • people who are isolated, vulnerable, or lacking the digital skills to access the application process; and
  • people unable to apply for compelling practical or compassionate reasons, including in the light of the pandemic.

Late applicants are urged to apply as soon as possible.  It will be necessary to submit evidence to demonstrate why the deadline has been missed.

Consequences of missing the deadline

From 1 July 2021, eligible individuals who have not applied under the EUSS will not have lawful immigration status in the UK.  There is some uncertainty about how the Home Office will respond to such cases in practice.  The Home Office operates immigration enforcement teams who are tasked with ensuring that individuals and businesses comply with the immigration rules.

The Home Office has said that if its immigration enforcement staff encounter people who haven’t yet applied, they will give them a 28 day window of opportunity to do so.  The guidance does not specify what the approach will be towards people who are refused status or who fail to apply.

What should employers do in this situation?

Employers are not responsible for ensuring that employees have applied under the EUSS by 30 June 2021.  Moreover, retrospective checks are not required by the Home Office. However, it is good practice for employers to check their employees’ status to ensure the stability of the workforce.  The Home Office has an online checking service which enables employers to determine whether an overseas national has the right to work in the UK.

For tailored legal advice and support on immigration matters contact Nadine Marston or call Boardside on 0330 0949338