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Local support is available for people expected to apply to EU Settlement Scheme

Citizens Advice Sheffield is helping local people through “every step of the process” – with further support available via Darnall Wellbeing and Fir Vale Community Hub.

Sheffield car park staircase
Eryk Fudala (Unsplash)

Citizens Advice Sheffield is offering support to EU citizens in the city who are expected to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the upcoming deadline of 30 June.

The scheme was introduced by central government instead of automatically giving ‘settled status’ to all EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit. It has been criticised by migration campaigners, academics and lawyers, with the Public Law Project identifying barriers to access and concerns about the scheme’s digital-only proof of status system.

A major issue is that people who haven’t applied by the 30 June deadline will have no official immigration status in the UK.

In theory, this means that they will have ‘no recourse to public funds’, meaning they cannot legally be supported by the Council, GPs, schools or the benefit system.

Those working in the sector have warned about the uncertainty the scheme could create for thousands of people, who could have been living in the UK for decades but are still expected to apply.

There are particular concerns about people who are only granted ‘pre-settled’ status through the scheme, because for a variety of reasons they might not reapply after five years as the government expects them to.

The government was criticised last month after long-term British citizens received letters from the Home Office wrongly stating that they must apply to the scheme.

Green Party peer Natalie Bennett commented that the stress the scheme is causing to many people is "reminiscent of the Windrush scandal".

Who is expected to apply?

According to the UK Government website:

Except in a few cases, you need to apply if:

- you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

- you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, but your family member is (or is an eligible person of Northern Ireland)

This includes anyone who was “born in the UK but [is] not a British citizen,” regardless of how long they have lived in the country, and even if they have permanent residence or ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK.

How can I apply and where is help available in Sheffield?

You can apply for the scheme online for free via the Home Office. You will need a valid email address.

Locally, support has been coordinated and developed by Sheffield City Council. Help for anyone applying to the scheme is available from Citizens Advice Sheffield (CAS), whose free and impartial Advice Line (0808 278 7820) is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

If more advice is needed, CAS can refer people to Fir Vale Community Hub or Darnall Wellbeing, who are offering bookable appointments, materials in different languages and additional advice.

Clare Lodder, Chief Executive at CAS, said the charity is available to help people through “every step of the process.”

“Even if you are not sure if you need to apply, phone us, email or text us and we will help you sort out your next steps. Where you need us to, we will provide that advice in your own language.”

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