Home Office Announces New Changes to EUSS Pre-settled Status Holders

| May 24, 2024
Home Office Announces New Changes to EUSS Pre-settled Status Holders

The United Kingdom (UK) Home Office has announced new changes to the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

The changes, announced on 21 May, will ensure that “all those granted pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme can continue to prove their rights easily,” stated the news release.

It added that they will also give “greater clarity for those who are required to check immigration status, such as employers and landlords.”

The changes help implement the December 2022 High Court judgment from the judicial review brought by the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements.

The High Court ruled that individuals with pre-settled status do not lose their right to live in the UK under the Withdrawal Agreement if they don’t reapply for the EUSS.

Once the conditions are met, those granted pre-settled status under the EUSS should automatically gain permanent residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

“We believe our legal framework complies with the judgment,” Tom Pursglove MP, Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border, wrote in a letter to Lord Ricketts, Chair of the European Affairs Committee.

“However, we have continued to work closely with the IMA on implementation to ensure that the changes we have made work in practice,” he added.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme allows citizens of European Union (EU) countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and their eligible family members to continue living in the UK after Brexit.

It upholds the Withdrawal Agreement, which affirms that non-EU nationals living in the UK have the same rights as British citizens, as well as UK nationals and their eligible family members in any EU country they moved to or reside in.

It applies to EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU as of 31 December 2020, the end of the Brexit transition period.

Under the EU Settlement Scheme, qualified non-EU nationals have lifelong residency rights and can study, work, and travel freely between the UK and the EU.

Those with settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS are exempted from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).

This ETA exemption can be proven via their online digital record of UK immigration (eVisa), which should be linked to their passport.

New changes to the EU Settlement Scheme

The Home Office made further changes to strengthen its support of implementing the 2022 High Court judgment.

It announced three new changes to the EU Settlement Scheme:

1. Making expiry dates invisible to checkers

First, it will remove the expiry date of the pre-settled status from the digital profiles shown to third parties.

This means employers and landlords will not see when a person’s pre-settled status ends when checking online for a person’s right to work or rent.

The expiry date will also be invisible to third parties when viewing or proving one’s immigration status.

2. No more repeat right-to-work or right-to-rent checks

Second, the Home Office will no longer require third parties to conduct repeat checks on pre-settled status holders.

This means checkers don’t need to conduct more right-to-work or right-to-rent checks if the person stays in the same job or rental agreement.

In his letter, Pursglove recognized the risk of the “continued visibility of an expiry date” and the “requirement to re-check status.”

He acknowledged that these can negatively affect pre-settled status holders.

3. Pre-settled status extension to 5 years

Thirdly, the Home Office will extend the duration of pre-settled status extensions to five years.

“This will provide additional assurance to pre-settled status holders of their continuing rights,” Pursglove wrote.

It adds three more years of extension for pre-settled status holders who have yet to apply for or obtain settled status.

The Home Office has been giving two-year automatic extensions to pre-settled status holders since September 2023.

Implementing new EU Settlement Scheme changes

According to the3million, the changes are ” potentially good news” but must be received “with a pinch of salt.”

The3Million is a nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of non-UK citizens living in the UK.

“At the same time as these measures are put in place, the Home Office has said they will start looking at curtailment of pre-settled status,” it wrote on its X account.

The nonprofit group warned that if non-UK citizens cannot provide evidence that they have been living in the UK for five years “within the deadline imposed by the Home Office, they will be left undocumented.”

The3Million also asked whether pre-settled status holders can still use share codes to prove their status or if they need to use employer/landlord checking services.

Additionally, it raised the question of the implementation of the new changes.

Pursglove’s letter states that the changes and related guidance will be updated “in the next few weeks.”

The Home Office is also considering if amendments to related legislation are required to clarify these changes.

Later in the year, it plans to automatically upgrade people with pre-settled status to settled status after five years.