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EU Settlement Scheme rollout began earlier this week

The government’s proposed EU Settlement Scheme began its rollout this week, with a select group being allowed to trial it before its full release in time for Brexit day next March. The group of 4000 includes NHS workers and students from the North West and intends to make the application as smooth and simple as possible.

The scheme will be rolled out gradually for the rest of the year before it is fully released to the public ahead of our official withdrawal from the EU. Although no withdrawal agreement has been finalised and no future deal assured, the government have stated that the rights of EU citizens in the UK will be recognised no matter what the outcome of the negotiations.

Unfortunately, there is no current system or guarantee for citizens of EEA countries such as Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The UK government has assured that an agreement will be reached before Brexit and that talks are ongoing with these nations.

Currently, the scheme is available to apply for through a smartphone app or using a computer. Rather than having to send original documents to the Home Office, using the smartphone or tablet app will allow EU citizens to scan their original documents and take a photo of themselves using their device’s camera to confirm their identity. Considering the current system for applying for EEA Permanent Residence requires a large portfolio of evidence to be compiled and submitted, this will mean wait times should be dramatically reduced.

Simple questions will be asked of the applicant relating to their work status, home address and national insurance number if they have one. The intention is for the scheme to be as simple as possible for applicants, with the Home Office doing most of the work. Once these details have been given, the applicant’s details will run through government databases to confirm information like work history and to undertake criminality checks.

The cost of applications will be £65 for adults and £32.50 for children, which has received some criticism as EU citizens do not currently have to pay anything to stay in the UK and many did not have the right to say what happened to them during the referendum. However, this £65 charge will be a one-off for all, even those citizens who do not meet the five-year minimum requirement for permanent residence.

For those who have been here for less than five years, they will be applying for ‘pre-settled status’ which can be switched to settled status once they reach the five years requirement. This ‘switching’ application will be free of charge and should be undertaken through a similar app/online portal.

The scheme will be open until June 30th 2021 so EU citizens who do not have five years residence right now may still be able to complete one application if they will have been in the UK for five years before the end of the scheme.

An ‘EU Settlement Scheme Toolkit’ has been circulated to employers across the country and can be accessed through the gov website, providing further information and support for EU citizens and their families to prepare for the scheme’s full rollout in the near future.

Those who hold settled status for a year in the UK will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.

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The Brexit white paper will reduce the UK and EU’s current levels of access to one another’s markets

The government has recently confirmed that it will push for a post Brexit deal that will see the the financial services firms of the UK and EU have their access to each other’s markets scaled back, despite previously making calls for a mutual regulatory recognition.


Published on the 12th July, the government’s long-awaited Brexit white paper called for financial services to have new economic and regulatory arrangements in order to “preserve the mutual benefits of integrated markets and protect financial stability”.


Despite this, the government also acknowledged that it would not be able to replicate the EU’s passporting regimes and therefore, this would limit the and reduce the current levels of access to each other’s markets that the UK and EU currently benefit from.


In the white paper, the government calls for an “association agreement”, an agreement that is now more widely used but was initially designed for countries who are looking to join the EU. In response to this request, the Chief Executive of the Investment Association, Chris Cummings, expressed his disappointment at the fact that the government have “ruled out mutual recognition as their preferred option”.


However, the Investment Association welcomed the much-needed clarity that the Brexit white paper offered. Cummings added that “we believe that a solution based on enhanced-equivalence can deliver a deal that works for savers in the UK and across Europe, and for the asset management industry that supports them”.


He went on to say that following Brexit, it is clear to see that the UK’s relationship with the EU will change and that the UK and the EU need to develop a negotiation that can compromise between the two to continue their special partnership, one that has allowed the UK industry to contribute to the wealth and success of millions of citizens within Europe.


Confirming the deal as outlined in the white paper would see the UK leave the single market and customs union which the Prime Minister Theresa May believes would allow us to leave the EU without leaving Europe by returning powers and accountability of laws back to UK cities and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which the UK currently has to follow.


The Prime Minister went on to say that the deal proposed in the Brexit white paper would “preserve the UK’s and the EU’s frictionless access to each other’s markets for goods, protecting jobs and livelihoods on both sides, and propose new arrangements for services”.


The former Brexit secretary, David Davis, outlined an ‘alternative’ Brexit white paper which proposed a comprehensive system of mutual recognition, which covers a range of sectors and regulatory activity, between the UK and the EU. Davis’ version of the white paper presented a huge clash in comparison to the white paper revealed by May and was dismissed by EU negotiators who dubbed it a “have your cake and eat it” approach.

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5 Things You’ll Notice After Brexit [Infographic]

5 problems after Brexit infographic


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Indians are the 3rd largest group affected by the UK’s immigration scandal

In recent months, the ‘Windrush’ scandal has been a controversial topic in the news. The term ‘Windrush’ was coined from the ship of the same name who brought Jamaican workers to the UK in 1948. But what was the ‘Windrush’ scandal? The ‘Windrush’ generation specifically refers to the group of people who were citizens of former British colonies and arrived in the UK to live and work prior to 1973, and who then experience an immigration scandal which saw their rights of Commonwealth citizenship being taken away from them, with many facing deportation and denied legal rights by UK authorities.


Of the Commonwealth nationals affected, Indians emerged as being the 3rd-largest group of people who were denied their rights to British citizenship following the immigration scandal.


Rob McNeil, the Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory, commented that whilst a large population of immigrants were of Jamaican and Caribbean descent, Indians and South Asians were also amongst those who sought a new life in the UK prior to 1973.


After 1973, UK immigration rules concerning Commonwealth nationals arriving in the UK became more stringent and therefore, the latest figures released by the UK Home Secretary revealed that as many as 102 Indians had to be assigned an emergency ‘Taskforce’ to provide documentation and formalise their rights to live and work in the UK.


Of the 102, only 69 Indians were granted documentation as part of the ‘Windrush Scheme’ which granted them, their children who are born in the UK and those arriving in the UK as minors are able to apply for British citizenship free of charge.


In total, 2,272 cases were dealt with by the ‘Taskforce’. Of these cases, the majority came from Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica (1,093) and Barbados (213), India (102), placing them at the third largest group of people affected and Grenada (88), Trinidad and Tobago (86), with the remaining 690 cases coming from other countries.


Those affected by the ‘Windrush’ scandal commented that the experiences faced by the ‘Windrush’ generation have been completely unacceptable and that they need to be rectified. Despite the Home Office claiming that 18 members of the ‘Windrush’ generation, originally from the Caribbean, were deported or detained due to the fact that they could not provide evidence of their continuous residence in the UK, it was also stated that a formal apology should be made and support given to those 18 people who were wrongly deported or detained following the scandal.


Yvette Cooper, a Labour MP, comments that that ‘Windrush’ scandal highlights problems that have been happening over many years and that the government must take a cross-party approach to ensure that the awful experiences of the ‘Windrush’ generation are corrected.


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Companies struggle to fill vacancies following Brexit ‘supply shock’

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a survey of 2,000 employers has revealed that more and more companies are struggling to fill job vacancies as fewer EU citizens are relocating to the UK to live and work.


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that across all levels of skills jobs, the levels of applicants per vacancy has dramatically fallen since last summer, with the lack of applicants forcing companies to reluctantly raise the offered starting salary in an attempt to attract more people to roles.


Since 2013, the number of migrants moving to the UK from EU countries has fallen to its lowest figure which, in turn, has had a large impact on the level of job applicants and roles being filled within UK firms. The number of people applying for average low-skilled roles has fallen from 24 to 20 in the past year, with a decrease of 9, from 19 to 10 applicants, for medium-skilled job role advertisements.


The biggest challenge comes to those companies and employers who operate in sectors which are typically renowned for recruiting from overseas. They remain particularly vulnerable to future changes in immigration policies due to the fact that there has been a significant decrease of EU nationals coming to work in the UK during the past year.


Brexit as a whole could have a significant impact on the economy as a whole due to the number of unfilled positions and the increased recruitment costs that businesses are facing. A recruiter for Adecco Group commented that “with Brexit looming we’re seeing a talent shortage and a more competitive marketplace. In this candidate-short landscape, the pressure is on for employers to not only offer an attractive salary, but also additional benefits too.”


Following Brexit, there has been some negative press surrounding what this means for EU migrants who are looking to move to the UK but are unsure of what a future outside the EU spells for them. A government spokesman is trying to reassure EU citizens that the UK is highly aware of the huge contribution that they make to the UK economy and that they want to make it easy for them and their families to migrate to the UK in order to live and work. Brexit does not mean that the UK will no longer welcome EU migrants. Instead, there will be a considered immigration system put in place that seeks to welcome those who want to work hard and contribute to the UK economy.

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa [infographic]

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

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UK Accused of Turning a Blind Eye to Forced Marriages to Grant Visas

The Home Office has come under scrutiny this week after failing to protect British women and teenage girls who have been forced into abusive marriages, through granting their foreign husbands visas.


Almost 90 cases of victims attempting to block visas last year were recorded by officials, although almost half were still issued. This has been revealed from data collected by the Times.


These women are both physically and sexually abused by their partners and these cases have gone unchallenged by authorities. A group have claimed that immigration officials have been “turning a blind eye” as they are concerned of being culturally or religiously insensitive.


Despite these accusations, the Home Office has categorically denied this allegation. Under the freedom of information laws figures were released that showed that 175 cases to try and block spouse visas last year. Of these, only 88 became full cases.


These included direct requests from the victims themselves, who are known as “reluctant sponsors”, as well as requests from third parties, for example where a forced marriage has been suspected.


These UK women have been forced to marry men from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.


For 42 of these cases, visas were still issues, while in 10 more the decision is still pending or an appeal is still being heard.


Karma Nirvana is a charity that has been set-up to help victims of forced marriage. The founder Jasvinder Sanghera told the Times that “even when officials know it’s a forced marriage, they see tradition, culture or religion and they’re recited to deal with it. They are turning a blind eye”


A law making it illegal to force somebody into marriage was introduced into England and Wales in 2014 and anybody who is caught doing so could be sent to prison for up to 7 years.


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Visa Battle to Keep Child Chess Prodigy in the UK

Shreyas Royal, a nine-year-old chess prodigy from India is currently in the middle of an immigration battle after he has been told that he will have to leave the UK after his father’s work visa expires.


This incident has prompted calls from MPs for the home office to step in and to take preventative action against this from happening. This is because Royal is known for having an “exceptional talent” in playing chess.


Shreya Royal has been living in the UK for 6 years, since he was three years old, however, when his father’s visa runs out in September, the Royal family are set to be deported back to India.


The family moved to South London is 2012 and both of his parents Jitendra and Anju Singh have been living in the UK under a tier 2 long-term work permit. However, now it has been revealed that unless Shreya’s father earns £120,000 a year, the family will no longer be eligible for the visa.


Shreya’s parents have both appealed to the Home Office, on the grounds that their son is a national asset, due to his exceptional talent in chess. This week they have received a letter stating that although he shows “immense promise”, this is not grounds enough to keep the whole family in the country.


This decision has encouraged MPs to urge the home office to reconsider. They have written a letter to Sajid Javid explaining the situation, stating that “the family faces being forced to leave the only home Shreyas has ever known in less than two months time”.


Similarly, the MPs wrote a letter to Jeremy Wright, the secretary for digital, culture, media and sport.


If everything goes to plan, then the family will have to vacate the UK on the 10th of September.

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New-born Baby Kept Worlds Apart from Father due to Home Office Snub

A British mother and her new-born baby have been swept under the rug amid an administrative backlog of unresolved visa cases. The battle to bring her partner – the father of her children – to the UK from New Zealand has been met with bizarre twists and turns from the Home Office. The couple appear trapped on a merry-go-round of miscommunications.

Before coming to the UK, the family had all lived in New Zealand together for ten years. When the British mother returned to her homeland while pregnant, she faced unexpected complications with her pregnancy. Anxious to have her partner present at the birth, the couple frantically applied for an Unmarried Partner Visa. This would grant him entry clearance into the UK.

The couple fulfilled all of the visa requirements. They even paid the extra premium fees to speed up the process.

The family coughed up £2,123 in visa fees alongside the £573 for the fast-track privilege on the 26th April. Being a priority customer, the family felt assured they would be reunited as quickly as possible.

Lost application

As expected, the visa application landed on a Home Office official’s desk the following day in Sheffield. The couple received a proof of postage confirmation that was signed for on the 27th April.

However, almost a month later, the Home Office claimed they had not received any of the paperwork to support the father’s application. Correspondence from governmental officials repeatedly spurred out the same rigmarole. The couple’s lawyer then issued a complaint to the Home Office, encouraging them to process the application “as a matter of urgency”.
The complaints made little impact. The Sheffield office continued to insist that they have not received the paperwork in a further wave of generic and robotic emails.

Seven weeks rolled by until the officials finally admitted they had the paperwork. This was shortly followed by yet another templated email requesting evidence the couple had already sent.

Shock email

By the end of June, the correspondence turned sour. The couple was informed via a strange email that the decision to refuse their application had been overturned. The revelation came completely out of the blue. Neither the couple nor the lawyer were aware that the visa had been rejected in the first place.

But the future started to look promising. The application appeared to be set in motion as the email promised a visa would be issued to the father shortly.
However, in a further twist, the email requested the applicant send his passport to an office in Sydney to be processed. The father’s passport had already been sent with the visa-application to an office in Auckland back in April. The administration should have passed it on months ago or returned it.

The New Zealand father then rang the Auckland centre. Rousing further suspicion, he was told simply that he had ‘the wrong department’ and was unable to speak to anyone else who might know the whereabouts of his passport. No proof of the centre’s existence lives online: there is no contact number and no email address. As it stands, there appears to be no other means of finding the now-lost passport. The centre is supposed to be an overseas Home Office point of contact. Now, it appears to have fallen off the face of the earth.

As anxieties rose, the Immigration Advice Service issued another formal complaint on the 4th July. Ten weeks of frustratingly inadequate communication and poor standards of service is unacceptable. The lawyer urged customer service to, again, chase up the visa and relocate the passport as quickly as possible.

An official response finally came back. Yet the respondent’s claims were far from the truth. The correspondent claimed to have contacted the couple in regards to their visa complications, although no record of this could be found. The couple informed the lawyer that they had not been contacted at any point during the process.

The official also demanded a letter of signed authority. The email claimed the letter was needed before he could divulge any knowledge to the lawyer. This document was completed and sent back within 24 hours, only to be met with further silence.

A family in pieces

The family is now at their wit’s end. The last point of contact was yesterday when the complaint was passed onto another official who then requested the same letter of signed authority. The email stated that no such letter existed in their records, despite the lawyer sending it over three weeks ago.
Now, three months on, a new-born baby is being welcomed to the family in Britain by everyone but his own father. Unable to make the journey while his passport lies in limbo, they are making do with bonding through a Skype session. This “FaceTime Father” has no other choice but to love and comfort his children through the medium of a cold computer screen. Positioned at the other corner of the world, speaking to his family is a race against the time difference.
The only option left is to threaten the Home Office with a Judicial Review. But following through could cost the couple thousands in legal fees on top of what they have already paid.
UPDATE 01/08: The New Zealand father had his passport returned to him earlier today. There is still no news of his visa.

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The Home Secretary is Considering Ending Indefinite Immigration Detention

Sajid Javid makes statement in response to critical report by former prisons Ombudsman

The home secretary has announced that he is considering the idea of ending indefinite immigration detention in response to the prisons Ombudsman report that was highly critical of the current procedure.


The recent publication, by Stephen Shaw, who is the former prisons and Probation Ombudsman, prompted Javid to consider reviewing how the time-limited detention works in other countries in order to better inform the ongoing UK debate.


Shaw’s recent report is a follow up from his initial report, which criticised the treatment of immigration detainees. The report examines the implementation of the recommendations he made in the first report and also builds on this, making further recommendations to improve the treatment and conditions of detainees.


Javid has stated that the government is committed to finding alternative methods to detention centres, and says that the government are looking into working with charities. Faith groups, communities and others to develop alternatives.


Javid also added that there would be an immediate stop to the practice of three detainees occupying rooms that have been designed for a maximum of two, in addition to reviewing the training and support for staff currently working in immigration removal centres in order to help them work with detainees more closely.


In 2017, there was an 8% decrease in the number of detainees in the UK, reducing the number from 30,000 to around 28,000. Shaw praised this reduction but also raised concern about many of the things he saw when conducting his research for the report. Shaw claims that detention should be the last resort.


An example he gave was of a frail 77-year old Bangladeshi whom he discovered in the detention centre. He stated that anybody over 70 should not be held in a detention centre, claiming that this demonstrates a lack of compassion.


Shaw also said that people who have committed a crime and have lived in the UK for an extended period of time should be treated and punished in the same way as a UK citizen, rather than being deported.


Charity workers claim that despite the initial recommendations made by Shaw, the situation for detainees has remained dire and, in some cases, worse than before.


In new research, Bail for Immigration Detainees found that vulnerable people including torture survivors and people who suffer from mental health problems were detained too often and for too long. It’s been revealed that the Home Office routinely ignored the “rule 35” reports that were carried out by medical professionals in order to flag concerns about vulnerability.


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