The EU settlement scheme and the hostile environment
In his first speech as prime minister, Boris Johnson pledged to EU citizens living in the UK that under his government "you will get the absolute certainty of the rights to live and remain" as the country exited the EU. The Home Office’s EU settlement scheme (EUSS) puts the government’s commitment to protect these rights into practice. EU citizens already residing in the UK and their family members can apply to the scheme to protect their rights to live, work, and study. On 30 June, after just over two years of operation, the official deadline for applying to the EU settlement scheme arrives.
The Home Office has said it is learning the lessons of the Windrush scandal and has introduced a ‘comprehensive improvement plan’ to implement the necessary reforms. The end of the EU settlement scheme will be the next big test to demonstrate whether lessons have been learnt from Windrush. If this is mismanaged, then the Home Office risks another blow to its credibility. The stakes for the government are therefore very high.
In this briefing paper, we will explore the implications of the end of the EU settlement scheme and outline which cohorts are at most risk as the deadline passes. Based on this analysis, we will set out a series of urgent policy recommendations for addressing the risks to EU citizens and their family members. Our proposals will focus on measures to protect the rights of people who miss the deadline, tackle the discrimination that may occur because of the scheme, and support those with pre-settled status to transition on to permanent residence.