A statutory body set up to monitor the rights of EU citizens post-Brexit has been allowed to carry out a judicial review of Home Office rules which affect up to 2.5million EU nationals living in the UK. UK.
The Independent Supervisory Authority (IMA) has asked the High Court to challenge a decision by the Home Office to take away the rights of people who had been living in the UK for less than five years before Brexit if they do not ask to permanent resident status.
The rules mean they would be classed as undocumented migrants and lose their rights to reside, work, rent property or access services, including the NHS. At worst, they risk expulsion.
The IMA argued the rules were a breach of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which guaranteed the rights of EU citizens who were in the country before Brexit .
Authorizing judicial review, Judge Saini said that “the IMA case is fully arguable”.
He added: “There is also a real problem as to the potential application of EU law in the interpretation of the WA.”
He said it was of significant public interest given the large number of people with so-called ‘pre-established status’ who are obliged to apply for permanent ‘established status’ with the Home Office before that their pre-established status does not expire at the end of five years in the country.
The judge said: “Resolving these issues is a matter of public interest given the potentially large number of people with pre-established status (2.4 million people). The claim must be resolved well before such a person is exposed to potential risks of not applying for established status. That date is, as I understand it, the beginning of 2023.”
The date refers to the fifth anniversary of the pilot launch of the established status program, in December 2018.
Under Home Office rules, each of the 2.5 million people who have been granted pre-settled status who do not apply for settlement status will lose all rights to education, health care, benefits and employment and access to the NHS.
“We welcome the court’s decision to allow our case to be heard. This is an important step as we hope to bring clarity and certainty to the millions of citizens with pre-established status,” the IMA said in a statement.
“In the meantime, we continue to encourage citizens who are having difficulty exercising their rights to let us know via our online portal.
Activists, including the 3million group, fear that many vulnerable people with pre-settled status will fail the Home Office test and face deportation.
These include children in care, the elderly, the homeless, those in hospital or suffering from domestic violence, or people who lead chaotic lives and do not handle their paperwork well.
Many others need the help of charity workers to manage the Home Office system and may not understand that they have to reapply once they are in the country.
“By taking legal action now, we hope to provide clarity to citizens with pre-arranged status, including 2.485 million as of November 30, 2021,” IMA chief executive Kathryn Chamberlain said when the authority submitted its request. . for judicial review.
The IMA successfully argued in its application for judicial review to the High Court that having proved their right to be in the UK, EU nationals should not have to face the risk of seeing their rights removed.
The Home Office said it disagreed with the IMA and would defend itself in court.
“We take our obligations in terms of citizens’ rights very seriously and, in good faith, we have put in place the arrangements agreed under the Withdrawal Agreement,” a spokesperson said. “As this is ongoing litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further”