Confusion Surrounding Status of EU Nationals
EU nationals are facing considerable difficulty when applying for jobs or renting property due to confusion over current immigration rules.
Despite there being more than six months remaining to apply through the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals are being asked to provide proof of Settled Status when seeking employment or renting a property.
Further to this, iNews has seen evidence of job adverts requesting that EU nationals provide evidence of their acceptance onto the EU Settlement Scheme within their application.
Although the Home Office has repeatedly stated that Settled Status rules remain unchanged until the end of June, the situation has prompted the government to provide further clarification.
As touched upon, citizens of the EU are finding it difficult to rent property due to landlords incorrectly stating that right to remain documentation must be provided for tenancy agreements to be arranged. This is despite it being currently against the law to ask EU, EEA or Swiss citizens for proof of settled status when letting property.
According to guidance for landlords on the government website:
“Right to rent checks continue in the same way as now until 30 June 2021 for citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Continue checking their passport or national identity card as before. For family members of EU, EEA or Swiss citizens, follow the usual guidance for documents you can accept for right to rent checks.”
It’s against the law to ask EU, EEA or Swiss citizens to show that they have settled status or pre-settled status when starting a new tenancy. You will not need to make retrospective checks for existing tenants from 2021.”
Much of the situation owes to the UK’s’ ‘Hostile Environment’ policy, which makes it necessary for landlords to double as immigration officials when letting property to overseas nationals. Under the terms of the policy, landlords who do not conduct right to rent checks are liable for heavy fines or imprisonment.
According to iNews, the ongoing confusion over rules regarding settled status has resulted in some EU nationals being refused mortgages.
The Home Office has clarified that EU nationals currently resident in the UK only need to provide their passport or national identity document to demonstrate their right to remain. Yet employers and landlords are continuing to misunderstand these rules and wrongfully deny EU citizens.
Confusion over rules
3million, an advocacy group for EU citizens living in the UK, conducted a survey in September 2020 involving 500 UK companies. The survey found that 50 percent of companies were unsure as to whether they could offer EU citizens a contract of employment from 1 January 2021 onwards.
Confusion over the rules is causing considerable difficulty for EU citizens, who are missing out on accommodation and employment despite being perfectly entitled to them. The situation is intensified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is squeezing the jobs market and causing intense competition for vacancies.
Maike Bohn, co-founder of 3million, said:
“I’m concerned that this issue will amount to discrimination. I am urging the government to ensure that British businesses are properly informed of the rules and what they need to do.”
Many small employers are unclear about the new rules of employing EU citizens, especially now during the six month grace period while people are still within the deadline to apply for their settled status, yet free movement has ended.”
Bohn has raised concerns that the shortage of employment and homes amid the pandemic may result in landlords and employers discriminating against EU citizens by selecting applicants that possess paperwork proving their right to remain.