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    We have helped many individuals apply to the EU Settlement Scheme; many instances in complex and difficult circumstances
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Applying for the EU Settlement Scheme: Help and Support for EU Nationals in Wales

In this Q&A, Edward Farrell, a paralegal at Newfields Law, discusses Newfields’ work with the Welsh Government to deliver the EU Settlement Scheme and its relevance for people experiencing homelessness and other complex issues.

Who are Newfields Law?

Newfields Law is an immigration law firm based in Cardiff. We are an experienced team of immigration advisers, providing assistance to sports clubs, businesses, educational establishments, and individuals.

We have been funded by the Welsh Government to provide free advice and support to EU citizens and their EU and non-EU family members who are based in Wales and who are looking to apply through the EU Settlement Scheme.

We have experience supporting people with all aspects of the EU Settlement Scheme, from straightforward cases to more complex ones involving applicants who are homeless, vulnerable adults and children, applicants who lack the documents required for a standard application to the EU Settlement Scheme and applications with previous criminal convictions. 

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

As of 31st January 2020, the UK formally left the EU. A transition period was established to last until 31st December 2020; meaning that, until then, the UK will continue to follow EU rules that are in place. After the transition period ends on 1st January 2021, the UK will no longer be bound by these rules. This means that ‘free movement’ between the UK and the EU ends on 31st December 2020.

  • If you are an EU national and want to stay in the UK, after 31st December 2020, you and your close family members will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This will give you an online immigration status of your right to reside in the UK.
  • If you are an EU national arriving to the UK on or before 31st December 2020, you can continue to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 30th June 2021. However, EU nationals arriving to the UK from 1st January 2021 will have to apply under a new immigration system which will include both EU and non-EU nationals.

How do you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?

For most people, an application can be done using the EU Exit: ID Document Check App on both the Android and iOS App Store. This will take you through the document checking process and identity verification. You will then be asked to complete an online form, providing you have access to the internet and a valid biometric passport or national identity card.

Some applicants, such as those without a valid ID document, will need to apply via a paper form and/or may need to send documents in the post if they do not have a biometric ID card.

As of 1st September 2020, the Home Office estimates that they have received more than 62,500 applications to the EU Settlement Scheme in Wales. To put this into perspective, it is estimated that there are around 80,000 citizens in Wales.

How has Newfields’ work on the EU Settlement Scheme been going?

We have been working hard to reach out to communities and get in contact with different organisations to help promote this scheme. Many of the organisations we have been in contact with have been happy to connect us with their EU staff or clients. We have been happy to provide these organisations with help to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, guidance on EU immigration rules going forward, and training sessions for staff to allow them to understand the basic requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme and be able to direct EU clients towards help available to them.

This aspect of our outreach has been really successful because many of the organisations we are in contact with are aware of vulnerable or isolated individuals who need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. We have therefore been able to get in contact with these individuals, through these organisations, to offer advice and support to apply.

Tell us about the impact of COVID-19 on our work

Before March, our work was primarily face-to-face; involving regular public outreach and presentations to groups across Wales. However, COVID’s impact meant we had to swap our presentations to webinars, and our face-to-face meetings to Zoom meetings. This switch was quite difficult given that some of the individuals we were assisting to apply did not have internet or were not confident in using websites like Zoom.

Over the summer, as COVID regulations began to relax, we began meeting individuals again. This was still quite difficult, given that we had to wear masks and social distance. However, this is something we had to quickly adapt to, in order to protect both ourselves and the individuals we were assisting. As Cardiff goes back into lockdown, we have had to, again, revert back to online meetings with applicants. It has been challenging helping with online applications remotely, but we have adapted and persevered in these difficult circumstances.

What kind of barriers have people had to applying?

We have helped many individuals apply to the EU Settlement Scheme; many instances in complex and difficult circumstances.

Quite a common issue we have found, is where applicants are missing valid ID documents. One such individual only had a birth certificate and had very limited documentation to show they had been living in the UK. This is an issue that may likely be particularly acute for rough sleepers and those experiencing homelessness  

In another case, the individual we were assisting received a suspended 10-month sentence in 2017 with community service and referral to the probation service. The individual was concerned about how their conviction would affect their application to the EU Settlement Scheme but their application was processed and settled status granted within 2 months. For ex-offenders or individuals referred to probation services, a conviction does not necessarily serve as a barrier to applying for a status.   

What are your plans for the future?

We know that many of the individuals we are assisting need face-to-face assistance to be able to apply due to potential technical complications. However, due to increased COVID regulations in Cardiff, we are having to revert back to webinars with organisations and Zoom meetings with individuals looking to apply. We hope that this is only a temporary obstacle and we are determined to continue to work with individuals and stakeholders to promote the EU Settlement Scheme and the advice services available to help applicants to apply.  

If you would like assistance to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, or you know someone else who needs help, get in touch at: info@newfieldslaw.com

 

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© Cymorth Cymru 2020
Company Registration No: 5093332
Charity No: 1116774