MPs warn EU settlement scheme could cause another Windrush scandal
The Common Home Affairs Committee spoke of “serious concerns” regarding the EU settlement Scheme, highlighting potential technical issues with the application system.
Currently, EU citizens living in Britain can apply for settled status through the scheme, allowing them to continue living and working in the UK post-Brexit.
There are concerns that the design of the scheme may leave some EU citizens at risk of losing their right to remain after the deadline for registration.
Yvette Cooper, chair of the committee, said that confusion surrounding the scheme may “run the risk of another Windrush scandal”.
The scandal, which occurred last year, resulted from a change in immigration law in 2012, whereby those without the correct documentation were asked for evidence in order to retain their right to work, live and access services in the UK.
Some were removed or held in detention despite having lived in the UK for decades, which led to furious backlash against their treatment.
The EU settlement scheme asks applicants to prove their identity, declare any criminal convictions and upload a facial photograph.
Their employment and benefits data are then checked to confirm proof of residence, with all applications being run through UK criminality and security databases.
Stuart McDonald, an SNP member of the committee, suggested a more accessible printed document should be used as opposed to the current reliance upon an “unfamiliar” digital system.
Other campaigners have argued that EU citizens should not have to submit an application but instead should have the right to simply declare UK residence.
It is estimated that between 3.5 million and 4.1 million European Economic Area citizens, including their family members, are eligible to apply to the scheme by the end of 2020.
The Home Office maintains that the scheme is “performing well” and that the government is committed to protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK.