Alexandra Bulat is the Co-Manager of the Young Europeans Network, the youth wing of citizens’ rights organisation the3million.
She has a PhD in Political Sociology and Migration Studies from UCL. Alexandra tweets @alexandrabulat.
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“I got an email saying I received settled status, but I did not get any letter in the post or card. Does this mean I have it?” or “I heard I need to get a ‘share code’ to prove my status to my employer, how does one get that?” These are two common questions I receive from EU citizens who have pre-settled or settled status.
With the deadline rapidly approaching on the 30th of June, it is crucial we ask all our EU citizen friends and neighbours if they have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and encourage them to ask, in turn, their EU citizen friends.
Perhaps some will ask how come there are EU citizens who still have not secured their status. “Surely, they had enough time to do it”, I hear some say. While volunteering as an immigration adviser assisting people with their EU Settlement Scheme applications, I met many EU citizens who did not know they had to apply.
Examples include those who thought their blue Permanent Residency card is sufficient. They did not know they needed to exchange that document with settled status, as it will not be valid otherwise. I met parents who found it difficult to believe that their children do not get status automatically – “How can a baby apply for status?”, one asked me. Indeed, one can link their child’s application with their application, but an application has to be made for all family members, even if they are children.
30 June 2021 is a significant moment. It does not only mean that some EU citizens will fall through the cracks of the Scheme, find themselves unlawful in the place they call home and need to make the case for late applications. After the deadline, EU citizens will need to prove their status at every step of their lives – when renting a property, opening a bank account, applying for a job or welfare support.
It is not enough to simply have pre-settled or settled status. One needs to be able to use their rights. For EU citizens, pre-settled and settled status are digital. There is no physical proof of status, despite organisations who work with migrants all providing evidence of the challenges this will pose to EU citizens, especially those who already struggled to get their status.
EU citizens can view and prove their status online by generating a ‘share code’ that can be accessed by those requesting such proof, such as landlords or employers. The Government also put the responsibility on EU citizens to notify the Home Office every time they change relevant details, such as when they renew their ID or passport or change their UK address.
The EU citizens who struggled to apply for their status will likely experience difficulties using their status in the months and years to come. Thus, the Government must extend support for organisations working with migrants beyond the deadline. The challenges do not stop with the deadline – for some EU citizens, this is the moment when the challenges will start.