Relief for British families in EU as Brexit deadline fears quashed – wont be penalised

Boris Johnson has ‘abandoned Brexit’ says Gerald Howarth

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March 29 is the deadline to apply for the EU settlement scheme (EUSS), which offers eligible EU citizens, eligible non-EU EEA, Swiss citizens and the eligible family members of these groups the right to remain in post-Brexit Britain. However, those applying have raised concerns over delays to their application.

When asked whether spouses could apply for EU settled status if they missed the deadline because of delays, the Home Office insisted they will process any application received before the deadline.

They said in a statement: “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.

“Family members of returning British citizens who are granted an EUSS family permit, which they applied for by 29 March 2022, will be considered to have ‘reasonable grounds’ for applying in the UK to the EUSS after that deadline.

“They should apply to the EUSS as soon as they reasonably can after their return to the UK.”

Speaking to the Guardian, a Home Office spokesperson added applications for EUSS family permits were “decided as soon as possible, but waiting times can vary depending on the volume of applications received and the complexity of the case being considered”.

They then added: “As a result, customers may experience a longer wait than usual for their decision”.

Following Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement reached by the UK and EU holds “a certificate of application for the residence status shall be issued immediately”.

It comes after British authorities were accused of breaching Brexit rules by failing to issue EU citizens vital paperwork rapidly.

The Home Office, according to POLITICO, argued it must check applicants’ identities before issuing them with certificates of application.

Luke Piper, director of policy at The3million lobby group, told the outlet his team are helping applicants who have been waiting for a certificate since before the summer.

He said: “They say that they need to confirm people’s identities before sending a certificate, but this is not what the agreement says.

“It is a pretty clear breach of the agreement.”

The3million has claimed there are currently more than 320,000 EUSS applications in the Home Office’s backlog.

They added, at the current rate, it will take at least 16 months to clear this backlog.

The Home Office has said the EUSS has been an “overwhelming success”, with over 6.3 million applications received and more than 5.6 million grants of status made by November 30, 2021.

Hielen Tekeste, from Italy, also told Bristol Live she feels “under the water with a breathing apparatus” because of her immigration problems with the Home Office.

She first moved to the UK at the end of 2014 and then left in February 2017 so that her disabled son could access specialist treatment in Italy.

Ms Tekeste returned to the UK in May 2021, but claimed her pre-settled status was refused on grounds of breaking continuous residency.

She said: “They keep changing the rules, it is like a Schizophrenic government.

“I want my life back, but at the moment I am in a limbo. I feel like I am under the water with a breathing apparatus.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Ms Tekeste’s case is currently awaiting administrative review and she has been updated on the delay in her case. Meanwhile, she was also advised by the Home Office to consider alternative immigration routes.”

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