The Home Affairs Committee (HAC) has called on the Government to confirm in primary legislation the rights of EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU.
In March 2019, the Government launched the EU Settlement Scheme to help establish the immigration status of EU citizens legally residing in the UK. People who apply through the scheme are granted ‘settled status’. If they have been living in the UK for more than 5 years, permanent resident status is granted.
People who have lived in the UK for less than 5 years receive ‘pre-settled status’, allowing them to apply for ‘settled status’ once they reach 5 years of residence.
In a report published on 30 May 2019, the HAC is concerned that, due to the complicated nature of a predominantly online-based process and low public awareness of the scheme, a sizeable number of EU citizens may face doubts about their future immigration status because they have failed to apply through the EU Settlement Scheme.
At a time when Britain faces the most acute housing crisis since the 1940s, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) supports the calls to enshrine into law the rights of EU citizens, who make a crucial contribution to the UK’s construction industry. Concerns remain that many skilled construction workers may not have the language or technical skills to wade through the different phases of the EU Settlement Scheme. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said:
“If we are to build the 800 homes a day we need to meet demand, the 164,000 EU citizens working in construction should have an absolute certainty that their rights are protected. We support proposals to deliver this via primary legislation and once again call on the Government to make resources such as translators available to discuss applications with caseworkers on construction workers’ behalf.”