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I am writing as your constituent to share my concern around the current crisis and the suspension of support for the Settled Status scheme.

The Covid-19 pandemic is dominating government policy, public health and public consciousness - and rightly so. But we must remember that this crisis puts the lives and rights of many migrants into even more uncertainty and danger.

After June 2021, EU citizens without Settled Status will become illegal in the UK. Many will have just played a vital role in keeping the country running and staffing the NHS. Others will have cared for the elderly, or delivered our groceries and take-aways. Soon, they could lose their right to stay in the country they made their home.

Even if the EU Settlement Scheme reaches a 99% success rate, that would still mean tens of thousands of people losing their rights. Children in care, domestic violence victims, elderly people with insufficient language or digital skills are among the groups most at risk of falling through the cracks. However, recent research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants shows a worrying level of confusion about the scheme even among the working age population.

Furthermore, the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on people’s employment and housing situations and other personal circumstances, forcing many EU nationals to temporarily return to their home countries. This is not taken into account by the Home Office. Under the current rules, people who had to spend the pandemic with their families abroad - for example because they lost their jobs, wanted to be close to relatives or felt less safe in the UK - could lose their right to a Settled Status.

There is a very simple solution to this situation. I urge you as a parliamentarian to support the Right to Stay principle. The UK Government could give all EU citizens currently residing in the UK a Right to Stay, guaranteed in primary legislation.

What is the Right to Stay principle?

1. EU nationals living in the UK should have an automatic Right to Stay guaranteed in legislation.

2. This is what was promised in 2016, but it’s not what Settled Status offers.

3. Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status is currently not automatic. The government can turn down applications and there is no right of appeal. This has created fear and anxiety, and some people are being unfairly refused.

4. The Right to Stay principle replaces Settled Status with a registration system. Crucially it removes the threat of deportation hanging over EU nationals - and in the context of a pandemic, it allows for future access of the healthcare system.

I urge you to express your support for the Right to Stay for EU nationals and to put pressure on the Government to legislate for it.

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