The EU Settlement Scheme is of great importance for a huge amount of people now that the effects of Brexit are right around the corner. For a full rundown of the scheme you can read our article: A Clearance of the Past? – How Can You Benefit From the EU Settlement Scheme?
In this blog we will be focussing on the latest guidance regarding providing extra evidence, the correct information you need to submit, and what to do if your qualifying period has been affected by COVID-19.
Extra evidence needed?
In some cases applicants will be required to provide extra evidence to confirm nationality or identity. This is usually a passport or national identity card. In cases where this is not possible due to factors outside the applicant’s control, there are alternative options. Similarly, personal tragedy or practicality issues may be taken into consideration during the application, especially if they are related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Let’s say that a person is unable to renew their passport as they have been unable to travel, or the embassy has had to close. This could be seen as a reason for that applicant to provide alternative evidence to a passport.
First, they would need to provide sufficient evidence as to why they cannot produce the preferred documents due to coronavirus public health restrictions. This could be evidence of an embassy closure, such as a letter from the relevant national authority, or a link to an official webpage.
They would also need to provide alternative evidence of their identity and nationality, or entitlement to apply from outside the UK. These can include:
- documents previously issued by the Home Office
- an expired passport or national identity card
- an official document issued by the authorities of their country of origin or of the UK which confirms their identity and nationality
They will need to apply via a paper application form if they need to provide alternative evidence of their identity and nationality, or entitlement to apply from outside the UK.
The paper application form can be requested here.
Emails accepted where possible
The Home Office have specified that in some instances email can be used to provide evidence, but where this is not possible they will provide ample time for evidence to be posted. They also say they will take into consideration ‘any disruption to postal services or of any reason you may be unable to post documents such as time spent self-isolating.’
Continuous qualifying period affected?
The Home Office has confirmed that applicant’s continuous qualifying period will not necessarily be affected if they were impacted by coronavirus public health restrictions.
Let’s say for example, if the applicant had coronavirus overseas and could not return to the UK, or imposed travel restrictions meant they were absent from the UK for longer than planned (providing the period does not exceed 12 months).
Absences from the UK of up to 6 months in any 12-month period
Applicants who have been absent from the UK for no more than 6 months in any 12-month period, in either a single absence or multiple absences, the continuous qualifying period will not be broken regardless of the reason for their absence(s) and they will not have to provide additional information or evidence in support of your application.
A single absence from the UK of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months
Applicants that have been absent from the UK for a single period of more than 6 months, but not more than 12 months, during a 5 year continuous qualifying period due to being ill with coronavirus, and they were unable to return to the UK because they were ill or in quarantine, that absence will not cause a break in their continuous qualifying period.
Similarly, students who were studying in the UK but have had to remain in a different country due to coronavirus will not be punished for having a break in their continuous period.
Applicants who have been prevented from travelling due to coronavirus should provide a supporting letter with the application outlining the details and the dates they were ill or were in quarantine.
It is important to remember that normally only one single absence exceeding 6 months (but not exceeding 12 months) for an important reason in the 5-year continuous qualifying period is permitted.
More than one such absence is likely to be treated as having broken the continuous qualifying period regardless of the reason for it, including if they were prevented from returning to the UK because of coronavirus. This does seem quite harsh to us, because if the circumstances are truly out of someone’s control, why should they be punished?
Absence of more than 12 months
If an applicant does not have permanent residence status under the EEA Regulations or settled status under the EUSS, an absence from the UK of more than 12 months will normally interrupt their continuous qualifying period.
In these circumstances they will need to restart their continuous qualifying period by 31 December 2020 to be eligible for status under the EUSS.
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