Positive news for vulnerable EU citizens living in Scotland

Staff from Settled and Citizens Rights Project celebrating continued funding from Justice Together, February 2024

Legal rights can be hard to access, especially if you’re vulnerable. Yet they can be literally vital. Thanks to a new grant from Justice Together, European citizens resident in Scotland will continue to get much-needed advice and support on the EU Settlement Scheme from two charities,  Settled and Citizens Rights Project – all free, multilingual, and accredited by the OISC. Szymon’s story below is one recent example of how their expert intervention helped a hard-working man avoid destitution in Aberdeen.

Although the initial deadline for the EUSS has passed, millions of people are now becoming eligible to convert from ‘pre-settled’ to ‘settled’ status, or have systemic difficulties using their rights to travel, employment, or education. And there are many people who haven’t yet applied at all because of difficult life challenges or lack of awareness – they are often still eligible to make late applications.

Andrew Jordan, Scotland Manager and Senior Immigration Adviser for Settled, says, “We are very grateful for this new funding from Justice Together, who have already funded our immigration advice on more complex cases since 2021 due to the shortage of other higher level immigration advice. Settled are excited to continue our partnership with CRP, giving 1:1 casework advice to clients in often desperate situations, as well as providing second tier advice to other partners. This has included support, guidance and training to CRP’s volunteer network in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, collaboration with Turning Point Scotland in Aberdeen, and the Simon Community’s Streetwork project in Edinburgh. We are also grateful for ongoing Scottish Government funding.

“Our clients often have significant vulnerabilities such as mental health problems, homelessness, substance misuse issues, experience of abuse including being trafficked, or criminal convictions. They often have very limited English and are sometimes resident in very remote communities in Scotland, where there are few other migrants. We have also supported ‘looked after’ children to obtain immigration status in conjunction with local authorities.”

If you are an EU/EEA citizen living in Scotland and need advice and support yourself, or work for an organisation wanting to refer or receive wider assistance, please contact Settled/CRP on [email protected] or on Settled’s free helpline – 0330 223 5336.

 

Szymon’s Story

Successful late application to the EUSS of a Polish man in Aberdeen, February 2024

Szymon* is a Polish man living in Aberdeen. He has been resident in Scotland since 2016, and applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme in June 2021 (several weeks before the application deadline), with help from his employer. The Home Office sent him a refusal email in September 2021, following an unanswered request for additional evidence for his application. Unfortunately, Adrian had not seen any of the emails from the Home Office, as they had gone into his ‘spam’ folder.

When Szymon’s employer realised that he didn’t have status, that was the first he knew about it. They ended his employment and as he wasn’t entitled to public funds, he had no income. He contacted the Home Office in November who advised him to make a new ‘late application’. He then did this without any help, but the application was immediately rejected as ‘invalid’ as his reasons for lateness were not accepted by the Home Office. He then contacted the3million charity, who in December referred him to the Settled / Citizens Right Project team for free 1:1 advice and support.

Settled/CRP advised him in Polish on his legal rights and required actions, which included requesting return of his Polish ID card and P60s from the Home Office, and gathering evidence of residency, such as bank statements, council tax liability, and GP letters.

Following various meetings with him, the caseworker and senior adviser involved were able to make a well-evidenced fresh application to the EUSS on February 1st, explaining why his vulnerabilities led meant it was late. As Adrian subsequently received a Notice to Leave on his tenancy, they then emailed the EUSS Homelessness Escalation team on February 14th, asking for a ‘Certificate of Application’ as a matter of urgency, so that associated rights (including rights to homeless temporary accommodation if required) would be available to him. The advisor also referred Adrian to Shelter for assistance in preventing homelessness.

Two days later, the team received the good news from the Home Office that Adrian had been granted full settled status. Shelter had already liaised with his landlord to explain why he hadn’t been able to pay his rent, and then gave the update that now he had status he was going back to work the next day and would be able to pay his rent and arrears. Homelessness prevented.

“I’m over the moon,” said Szymon. “This means I now have rights to temporary accommodation if I ever need it, but it looks like I can keep my tenancy anyway. I’ve been so worried about becoming homeless and ending up on the streets. And it means I can finally feel settled again in Scotland. For me, getting settled status means getting my life back. During the three months that I realised I did not have status, I lost the will to live. This situation affected my mental state terribly and I will suffer from it for a long time. But now that I have status, I can mend that time and slowly repay my debts. Fortunately, I was able to obtain my status at the right time. I’m so grateful to Monika and Andrew for their support”.

[* Szymon’s name has been anonymised to protect his privacy]

Changes to pre-settled rules

The Home Office announced some changes to EUSS pre-settled status rules on 21st May.

Please do not contact Settled to ask about these changes until we are clearer, as otherwise our service may become overwhelmed.

It is important that we can continue to respond effectively to beneficiaries in need of urgent casework advice and support.
 
We are waiting for more detail, and will update our website information, Facebook forums, and leaflets as soon as possible. Many thanks for your patience and understanding.

The Home Office announcement is here.

We’re here to help you with your Settled Status to remain in the UK. We have 100 volunteers on hand who can provide advice in all EU lanaguages.

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