As we reached 1 July 2021, we hit the deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Overnight, the Home Office stripped tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people, of their right to continue living in their own homes and work in the UK.

Whether because they did not hear about the scheme, did not know it applied to them, or because the people responsible for their welfare were not aware (for example, for children in care), anyone who has not applied became ‘undocumented’ at midnight on 1 July.

Many more are in legal limbo – like the hundreds of thousands waiting for a response to their application, or the 2 million living with temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ that will expire within 5 years if not upgraded.

Help and resources for EU citizens

Having taken away people’s right to live and work in the UK, the Home Office promises to be “compassionate” towards people who apply late. Even where there is a route back to status, even a single day in the Hostile Environment can be devastating. The Home Office pushes people out of status and then punishes them for being undocumented. We need change.

Stand in solidarity with everyone who has been pushed out of status

The immigration system pushes people out of status, into the Hostile Environment

Putting a deadline on the EU Settlement Scheme is just one way the Home Office pushes people out of status, instead of helping them secure and maintain their rights.

The immigration system is characterised by expensive, complex processes, restrictive visas, regular renewals, and long pathways to permanent rights. Anyone who is pushed out of the system falls into the Hostile Environment.

What is the Hostile Environment?

The Hostile Environment is a set of policies that aims to make life unbearably difficult in the UK for those who cannot show the right paperwork a set of policies that aim to cut off undocumented migrants from fundamental services including the NHS and the police, and make it illegal to work, or for a landlord to rent them a property. Doctors, landlords, police officers and teachers are tasked with checking immigration status, and often people who look or sound ‘foreign’ are asked to show their papers in order to rent a home or get medical treatment.

Once someone is in the Hostile Environment, the system makes it extremely difficult to change course and get status back. Read more about the Hostile Environment in our explainer.

EU citizens are not alone in being pushed out of status

"You went to bed as Jacky or Jim, and the next morning you wake up and that has been taken away from you" says Glenda Andrew, co founder of Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants, speaking about the Home Office attitude to those who are impacted by its policies. "You know who you are - but you need these documents to live - and surely that is not right." 

"You're going to get stories of people that have been impacted, and they've suffered. They don't feel well, anxiety sets in, they're stressed and they can't go to the doctor. They feel like they have to keep looking over their shoulder."

"The Home Office is saying - we've shut the door, and now we are going to help fix the problem we created. But it could have been prevented." 

Glenda is campaigning for justice for the Windrush generation and others affected by Home Office policies. Find out more on the Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants website.

Stand in solidarity with everyone who has been pushed out of status

We Are Here is our campaign for simple, workable reforms to stop so many people being pushed out of status, and better routes for people to secure their rights in the UK. Take action by writing to your MP now.

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