'Reasonable grounds' for late applications
Since 2017 the right of UK nationals returning with non-UK family members has been a source of concern. While completely within the gift of the UK, and outside the remit of the Withdrawal Agreement, it became clear that this was an area where the Government intended to level down rather than maintain our existing rights.
This came to fruition with the passing of the UK Immigration Bill which stripped us of our ‘Surinder Singh’ rights to return with non-UK family members. However, because we lobbied successfully for a three year grace period, this will only happen from 11pm on 29 March 2022. From that date, we will come under tough British immigration rules, meaning that we will have to earn £18,600 a year to be able to sponsor our non-UK partner and our partner's income will only count if s/he has been earning in the UK for more than six months.
Significant delays in the issuing of the necessary EUSS family permit to allow travel to the UK to apply for settled status under the EUSS before the cut-off date have been experienced reducing this grace period in practice. The approval process has increased from an expected 15 days to many months, leaving families in limbo and facing traumatic decisions about their futures. Many families are not even aware of these changes and will be unable to react within the timescales.
Following extensive advocacy and engagement by British in Europe throughout 2021, we are pleased to have finally received written confirmation from Kevin Foster, Minister for Safe and Legal Migration, that delays in the issuing of the EUSS family permit will be accepted as reasonable grounds for making a late application to EUSS once in the UK.
"As previously confirmed, where an application for an EUSS family permit is made on this basis by 29 March 2022 but is not decided by that date, it will continue to be processed and an EUSS family permit will be issued where the applicant meets the requirements. A relevant family member who comes to the UK with an EUSS family permit issued in such circumstances will then have ‘reasonable grounds’ for making an application here to the EUSS after the 29 March 2022 deadline, provided they do so without undue delay."
Download both our letter to the Minister and his response below.
This means that families can apply for an EUSS family permit before 11pm on 29 March 2022 in the knowledge that, even if not issued before that date, once it is issued, their family members can move with them and apply for settled status in the UK.
While this is an important success, it does once more underline the need for the British diaspora to have an organisation to advocate for their rights, a process that requires consistent, painstaking and expert work over a long period. As British in Europe is being forced to close through lack of funding, there will now be no organisation taking on this role, and individuals will be left to represent themselves and defend their own rights.
PUBLISHED: Feb 3, 2022
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