The Home Office refused 300 applications EU settled-status applications from people deemed “ineligible” for the scheme in February, as it began turning down applications for the first time.
The refusals account for a very small proportion of the 3.3 million applications that have been submitted to date. Of the nearly three million applications that had been concluded, nearly half – 1.7 million – have led to full settled status and a further 1.2 million to pre-settled status, meaning they will be able to apply for settled status once they have lived in the UK for five years.
However, the stats, which were published last week as part of the department’s monthly reporting on the EU settlement scheme, show a drastic increase in refusals. A month earlier, just seven applications had been refused – all on suitability grounds, which includes when people are due to be deported or have been convicted of a serious crime.
Less than 2% of those refused in February were because applicants were deemed unsuitable. The “vast majority” were on eligibility grounds, the Home Office said. To be eligible for the scheme applicants must show they live in the UK, and they are an EEA Irish or citizen or a family member of an EEA citizen with leave to remain in the UK.
“Many of these eligibility refusals relate to cases that had been under consideration for several months and, in most cases, subject to repeated unsuccessful attempts to obtain missing evidence or information from the applicant,” the department said.
The Home Office said refusals were a “last resort”.
“Home Office caseworkers will have often worked for months to try to get in touch with the applicant to help them provide the evidence required,” the department added in a factsheet published alongside the statistics.
Unsuccessful applicants can request an administrative review of the decision or reapply up to the 30 June next year. Those who applied on or after 31 January – the day the UK left the EU – also have the right to appeal their case.
The factsheet also stressed that the Home Office had no plans to introduce physical paperwork showing people’s settled status in the UK – despite calls from MPs and campaigners to do so. “There is no change to our digital approach,” it said.
Last month CSW revealed the department plans to roll out this “digital approach” to other immigration statuses, and eventually to scrap physical immigration documents altogether.
As well as the 300 that were refused on suitability grounds, 19,100 applications were withdrawn or voided – including, in some cases, because the applicant was a British citizen. A further 6,800 were written off as invalid because they did not include mandatory information such as ID. Together, these “other outcomes” accounted for 0.7% of the applications submitted to date.
All the figures are rounded to the nearest 50 and represent the number of applicants, rather than individuals – so includes some individuals who have applied to the scheme more than once.