Brexit rule designed to force EU citizens to reapply to stay in UK illegal, court says | Brexit | Daily News Byte

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Home Office rules that could put millions of EU citizens at risk of job loss or deportation after Brexit have been found to be illegal by the High Court.

Under the current EU settlement scheme, EU citizens who have been in the country for less than five years before Brexit and who had “pre-settled status” are obliged to reapply to upgrade their status to “permanent status” after being in the country. . five years.

If they do not, they will automatically lose their rights to live, work, rent property or access services, including the NHS, under Home Office rules.

But in a ruling in the High Court on Wednesday, Justice Lane described the rule as “wrong in law and the EU settlement scheme accordingly illegal” because it “aims to nullify the right to permanent residence”.

Lane ruled that the right of residence can only be lost in very specific circumstances that are clearly defined in the withdrawal agreement.

Loss of rights due to failure to make an application to upgrade from pre-settled to settled status was not one of the circumstances, Lane said.

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA), the UK and the EU agreed that EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU can legally remain in the countries they lived in if they settled there before Brexit.

But only the UK and Slovenia required citizens to make a second application to stay in the country for less than five years, the court was told.

Under Home Office rules, people with “pre-settled status” who do not apply to upgrade to “settled status” after five years in the country automatically lose their rights to live, work, rent property or access services including the NHS. use He was also responsible for exile.

Lane said he had “no reason to doubt” that the Home Office would support vulnerable people with pre-settled status, but the Withdrawal Agreement “ruled out” the Home Office imposing a requirement for further leave to remain in the country “as a condition”. Such rights were retained. to keep.”

He said: “If the defendant is right, a very large number of people face the most serious uncertainty.”

Home Office Minister Lord Murray said the government had “taken it upon themselves to protect them [EU citizens’] Rights in the UK very seriously. The EU Settlement Scheme goes above and beyond our obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, protecting the rights of EU citizens and giving them a way to settle in the UK.

“We are disappointed by this ruling, which we intend to appeal.”

Judicial review of the Home Office’s interpretation of the agreement was undertaken by the Independent Monitoring Authority, a statutory body set up in the UK to protect the rights of EU citizens.

Catherine Chamberlain, chief executive of the IMA, said she was delighted the judge had recognized the significant impact this issue had on the lives and livelihoods of citizens with pre-settled status in the UK.

“When we brought this judicial review, our intention was to provide clarity for citizens with pre-settled status, of whom there were more than 2.4 million when we filed this case in December 2021. This ruling provides clarity that the current system is illegal. ,” she added.

Campaign group the3million said: “We strongly welcome this ruling, which is meant to protect vulnerable citizens who have been granted pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme and who may lose their right to work, rent, travel, benefits, healthcare and more – Only to not apply more in subsequent years.

“We are pleased that the judge agreed with 3Million that the point of the EU reconciliation scheme is to make a clear distinction between those who are beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement and those who are not. Once a beneficiary, people cannot lose their rights simply by forgetting to make another UK immigration application – the Withdrawal Agreement does not allow this.

The group supporting the case said such a rule would affect some of society’s most vulnerable, including those who care for children and the elderly, victims of domestic abuse who are undocumented and those who for one reason or another lead chaotic lives.

According to Home Office quarterly figures in September, 2.7 million of the 6 million EU citizens with “pre-settled status” were granted UK residency status after Brexit.

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