The Home Office is under investigation over whether it has fulfilled its obligations to EU citizens in this country who are seeking settled status.
The inquiry launched by the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), the watchdog set up to look after EU citizens’ rights in Britain, will look into allegations of delays in providing EU citizens with the paperwork needed to work and access basic services in the UK after Brexit.
It comes after the watchdog spent months compiling complaints from EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) applicants who experienced delays in receiving their certificates of application.
The EUSS was designed for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who came to the UK before January 2021 and wish to continue living here, and for their family members of any nationality who wish to join them in the UK.
How does the scheme work?
It is an important certificate, post-Brexit, as it can be used as evidence of what rights they have in this country, including the right to work, rent or access benefits.
The Brexit withdrawal deal states that the UK must issue the documents immediately after receiving an application, while their application to remain is being considered.
The inquiry will assess whether there is any breach of the Brexit Withdrawal and Separation Agreements.
How can employers take on EU nationals?
- Employers faced with a skills gap can help potential employees from the EU by making sure they are aware of the EUSS scheme, but the application is down to the individual. However, the employer can direct them to the relevant Government sites for more help.
- From July 2021, employers are required to carry out right to work checks on any non-UK citizens, but not on existing employees before this point.
- If a business is looking to recruit an EU citizen from outside the UK, but they are not eligible for settlement, it must follow the new immigration system to enable them to move for work.
What powers does the watchdog have?
The IMA, which has the power to take legal action against the Government, is expected to interview officials and review policies and processes adopted by the Home Office as part of the probe.
In response to the IMA’s announcement, the Home Office said it has implemented the citizens’ rights provisions of the Brexit divorce deal in good faith, will collaborate with the inquiry and will consider the watchdog’s report in full upon completion.