UK immigration status woes amid Home Office blunder

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Thousands of European citizens have been denied UK immigration status amid a Home Office blunder that saw them accused of crimes they did not commit. According to a report published by The Independent, hundreds of applicants have had their UK immigration applications put on hold – sometimes for years – due to non-existent, pending prosecutions.


The Home Office has been accused of failing to update its records, leaving some to face years in limbo. The Independent describes the case of a man from Poland whose application for UK settled status was paused for two years. The man said he was contemplating suicide amid fears that he might be deported.

He was accused of committing fraud in 1999, but the allegation was quashed. However, it remained on his police record for years, leading UK immigration officials to reject his application for settled status in Britain. 


EU Settlement Scheme

EU citizens, along with their family members living in the UK, were required to apply to remain in Britain through the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by 31 June 2021, following the UK’s exit from the European Union. The scheme enables EU nationals to maintain their UK immigration rights after Brexit.

Nearly 6.5 million people have applied to remain in the UK through the scheme, while a further 400,000 are still awaiting the outcome of their application.

In accordance with Home Office policy, any applicant for a UK visa and immigration with a pending prosecution against their name which, if convicted, could be denied UK entry under ‘suitability grounds’ – in which case an application is paused until the outcome of the prosecution is known.


Thousands of EU citizens affected

According to data obtained by Coram, through Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, more than 25,000 EU nationals have seen their EUSS applications put on hold in the last three years because of a pending prosecution. 

The Independent report states that ‘hundreds, if not thousands, of EUSS application cases have been paused in error because of incorrect information on the Police National Computer (PNC) – a 47-year-old database that holds data on approximately 13.2 million residents in the UK. 

However, the Home Office has said that people with pending EUSS applications can still access their rights, but there are warnings that many applicants are facing practical difficulties, such as proving their right to work, benefits and rental accommodation.


Common issue

Immigration lawyers up and down the UK claim that cases being paused because of out of date information held about applicants is a ‘common issue’. 

Adviser at the Public Interest Law Centre, Kasia Makowska, said: “I’ve come across prosecutions that were long concluded, but still show up as outstanding on the PNC, leaving the applicants in a limbo.”

“By putting the onus on the applicant to liaise with the police, the Home Office is placing a heavy burden on an already vulnerable group, and ultimately penalising them if the police fail to update their records. We are concerned that thousands of people may be being impacted,” Ms Makowska added.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that it was ‘investigating’ several cases brought to light by The Independent’s report.

The spokesperson said: “It is right that those who have a pending prosecution have their application paused as, if convicted, it could lead to the application being refused. Caseworkers check if pending prosecutions have been concluded to ensure the application can be processed.”

“When an applicant is notified of their case being placed on hold due to a pending prosecution, they are advised that if they believe the matter to have been concluded they should contact the relevant police force to find out when their record will be updated,” the spokesperson added. can help with Sponsor Licences

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