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Report Highlights Settled Status Risk for Vulnerable Groups

17 May 2018 McGill & Co Solicitors Brexit & EU Migration

Despite Government efforts to make the process of applying for Settled Status inclusive and straightforward, certain vulnerable groups of EU citizens remain at risk of losing their legal status post-Brexit, a new report has warned. 

According to the Migration Observatory’s report the groups most at risk include domestic abuse victims, elderly people, children in care and victims of trafficking. 

Applying for Settled Status

To acquire Settled Status (SS), EU citizens will need to show that they started living in the UK before the cut-off date (currently 31st December 2020), and will need to complete five years of residence here. The report highlights that people in the at risk groups may struggle with completing the application and providing the necessary evidence, and also may be unaware that they are covered by the new regulations and need to apply for SS.

“The Home Office is clearly keen to create a system that is easy and straightforward to use, and most EU citizens should be able to sail through a simplified application process with little difficulty,” explained Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory. “But for a minority of people, the process will be more difficult. Many of these are already society’s most vulnerable—whether it is because they are socially isolated, have been victims of exploitation, or face personal barriers such as mental health or poverty.” 

Domestic Abuse Victims

One group of particular concern is women who are victims of domestic abuse, especially if they are not working as they may be reliant on their partner for evidence that they have been living here. According to Migration Observatory data, more than 50,000 EU citizen women experienced domestic abuse in the UK in 2016-2017.

The vulnerability of migrant domestic abuse victims has also been raised in a report by campaign group End Violence Against Women, which warns that the “hostile environment” created by the UK’s immigration policy has enabled abusers to use immigration rules and the threat of deportation to control their victims. It has called on the Government to support new measures proposed to protect these women, including putting protection of women from violence ahead of any enforcement of immigration controls. 

Additional Groups at Risk

The Migration Observatory report also identifies larger, if less vulnerable, groups of people who may simply not realise that they need to apply for SS, including:

  • More than 140,000 people who have lived in the UK more than 30 years
  • 56,000 elderly people (age 75+)
  • Over 145,000 people who have already been granted permanent residence, but will nevertheless need to apply for SS.
  • Over 900,000 children of EU citizens living in the UK, whose status will depend on their parents knowing that they need to apply. According to the report, there could be tens of thousands of children born in the UK whose EU citizen parents mistakenly believe that they are automatically UK nationals.

People who don’t apply for SS by the deadline risk losing their losing their status, and the Migration Observatory has raised the question of what will then happen to them. The EU-UK agreement on citizens’ rights says that a ‘proportionate’ approach will be taken to people who do not apply within the deadline, where there is a ‘good reason’. However, there is currently no detail of what this means in practice. 

Expert EU Migration Lawyers in Glasgow and Edinburgh

At McGill & Co, our expert team of EU Migration lawyers are acutely aware of all factors that may concern you, particularly in light of Brexit. We understand the concerns of our European clients seeking permanent residence in the UK, and will guide you through the process with skill and efficiency. Contact us today to find out more about our services.


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