30 June 2021 is the deadline to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. After that date, tens of thousands of EU citizens and their families could fall out of status, and lose the right to work, rent and access free healthcare.

The Government is running out of time to prevent this disaster. We've written to the Prime Minister calling on him to lift the EUSS deadline and ensure that EU citizens' rights are protected. 

You can take action too, by calling on your MP to help #LiftTheDeadline. 

Yes, I'll write to my MP!

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP 
Prime Minister 
10 Downing Street 

8 June 2021  

JCWI letter to Boris Johnson copying in Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development and Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice  

Dear Prime Minister, 

I write to you on behalf of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). Just 3 weeks from the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) deadline of June 30th, I wish to express my strong concerns about the EUSS. Urgent action is required to ensure all EU citizens can continue living in the UK with their rights protected after the deadline. 

I am pleased that over 5 million people have now secured their status via the EUSS and acknowledge that for many, the process is straightforward. However, it cannot be ignored that many others face barriers and will simply not find it possible to apply on time, for reasons outside their control. The consequences for those who are left behind by the scheme are devastating and far-reaching.  

The EUSS is currently designed in a way that means that anyone unable to apply by the June 30th deadline will automatically fall out of status and rights. They will, overnight, lose the right to rent, work and access free NHS healthcare. Every time we raise this with the Home Office we are simply met with the response that millions have applied, with silence on those who lose out. Yet we know from other Government departments that EU citizens who do not apply by the deadline will not have access to, amongst other things, free NHS healthcare, social housing or homelessness assistance.1  

This is not an insignificant minority. If even 1% of the millions of EU citizens resident in the UK are unable to apply on time, that will leave tens of thousands more people undocumented and vulnerable to Hostile Environment policies including detention and removal. 

Overwhelming evidence has found that it is the most marginalised in society who are the most likely to slip through the cracks in the scheme.2 As well as the most vulnerable we know that EU care workers and other key workers – the very people we have clapped for on a weekly basis over the past year – are also in danger of being left behind. A recent Home Office survey run between February and April this year found that 33% of identified looked-after children had still not made an application to the scheme.3 These figures throw into sharp relief the dangers facing EU citizens across the board. 

We in the migrant sector welcome the long-awaited guidance on late applications to the EUSS. We are glad the Home Office plans to take a ‘benefit of the doubt’ approach towards late applications, and has included many of the most at risk groups as examples of exceptions. However, there are strong remaining concerns. The guidance states that this flexible approach will ‘normally’ but not ‘always’ be applied, and that it will become stricter with time.  

Most concerningly, even where the guidance provides a route back to status in some cases, this does not protect EU citizens from losing their legal right to stay, even temporarily. The loss of legal status, exposure to the Hostile Environment and risk of criminal liability creates huge and potentially life-ruining risks. EU citizens in this position will automatically lose the right to rent, access free NHS healthcare and benefits, and could be criminalised simply for going to work. Many people will simply not realise they have no legal status until years later, at which point the damage could already be done.  

I recognise and welcome that the Home Office has spent £6 million on EUSS marketing and advertising and over £20 million on funding for 72 charities and organisations to assist vulnerable EU citizens apply to the scheme. Without this crucial support vast numbers of EU citizens would not have been able to secure their post-Brexit status. But the reality is that this doesn’t come close to what is needed to reach all EU citizens.   

This would be true even without COVID, but the pandemic and necessary restrictions have disrupted services and made things vastly more difficult, particularly for those who are socially isolated or without digital access. Trying to reach all EU citizens via an application system would have been a mammoth task at the best of times, but in the midst of a global pandemic, this should never have been attempted.  

That’s why JCWI and other migrants’ rights organisations have been calling on the Government to lift the EUSS deadline and grant all EU citizens automatic settled status for over two years. Put simply, this is the only way to avoid tens of thousands of our EU friends and neighbours becoming vulnerable to harmful Hostile Environment policies overnight. It is the only way for you to keep your promise made to EU citizens in 2016, that they would be ‘treated no less favorably than they are at present’ and would be ‘granted automatic indefinite leave to remain.’  

I look forward to hearing back from you.  

Yours sincerely,  

Satbir Singh  
Chief Executive, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants  

1. https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-05-11/514/; https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-05-14/1412/   

2. The Migration Observatory, ‘Unsettled Status – 2020: Which EU Citizens are at risk of failing to secure their rights after Brexit?’, September 2020; Migrant Voice, ‘Unsettling’, November 2019; CORAM, ‘Children Left Out?’, July 2020; JCWI, ‘When the Clapping Stops: EU Care Workers After Brexit’, January 2021; The 3 Million, ‘Experiences and Impact of the EUSS’; New Europeans, ‘Digital Status: Handle with Care’, November 2020

3. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-home-office-looked-after-children-and-care-leavers-survey-2020/eu-settlement-scheme-home-office-looked-after-children-and-care-leavers-survey-2021

Read the letter here