Ministry of Internal Affairs shift: EU citizens’ rightsrestored?

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, Town
Date January 19 2024
Reading Time 2 min.

Ministry of Internal Affairs shift: EU citizens’ rightsrestored?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has revoked a controversial decision that prohibited EU citizens from applying for residency after Brexit. This move comes in response to a series of negative consequences faced by thousands of individuals and active pressure from advocacy groups.

Recall that the EU Settlement Scheme, a crucial initiative aimed at determining the status of approximately 6 million EU citizens in the country, officially concluded in June 2021. However, even after the program’s completion, later applications were still considered on “reasonable grounds.” In August 2023, a new decree eliminated “unawareness” as a valid reason for the delayed submission of residency documents. This led to a flurry of problems. Upon closer examination, it was found that the consequences of this change were too severe: tens of thousands of EU citizens, unaware of the altered criteria, continued to submit residency applications. This oversight resulted in an unexpected surge in applications post-Brexit, exacerbating difficulties for both applicants and immigration authorities. People lost businesses, their accounts were frozen, medical insurance was terminated, and more.

Finally, under pressure from both human rights groups and EU citizens, the Ministry of Internal Affairs took an important step and repealed the August decree. “Late applications” for residency will continue to be processed. Despite this positive shift, campaigners from The3million emphasise that the new rules are still too uncertain, and the ambiguity of some formulations may once again deprive EU citizens of the ability to defend their rights.

Additionally, there are concerns about the measures taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs within the EU Settlement Scheme itself. Indeed, the Ministry allowed individuals applying for residency or its extension to remain in the country for an additional two years to find a more “stable and long-term” solution. However, as warned by The3million, there are potential pitfalls: employers, landlords, and banks may perceive this extension as a temporary and legally unstable status with all ensuing consequences (job loss, account closures, etc.).

Therefore, navigating the British bureaucratic systems post-Brexit remains challenging. As the saying goes, it’s better for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to change its shoes than to be left without them, or more precisely, without thousands of capable EU citizens able to address numerous challenges in the declining job market of the United Kingdom.