Is the Home Office prepared to cope with the changes Brexit will bring?
Under new Home Office proposals, all EU citizens resident in Britain will have to apply for inclusion on a “settled status” register if they want to stay in the country after Brexit.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has stated that an extra 700 Immigration caseworkers have been recruited to date and that the Government intends to recruit a further 500 by April 2018.
However, this level of Home Office caseworkers is simply not enough. How the Home Office will manage all the applications they receive, is of great concern to Immigration lawyers and their clients.
If the current caseworkers at the Home Office had to deal with all registration applications from EU nationals, they would have to process 1,500 each.
It may be of great surprise to you that the Home Office have admitted they may have to recruit Polish and other eastern Europeans to process applications for the 3 million EU nationals who live in Britain.
If the Home Office does not urgently take the necessary steps to prepare for Brexit, this could result in a lot of disruption for all.
For example, if the Home Office decide that EU Nationals have to join a queue with all other ‘non British Citizens’ at airports post Brexit, it could result in unprecedented hold-ups that could damage the UK’s reputation on a global level. Surely, the Border Force will also need to recruit more staff to carry out any new checks the Government will put in place but are steps being taken by the Government in a timely manner to plan for these changes?
It has yet to be decided whether the residence document for “settled status” EU citizens, will be issued as an identity card or simply exist as an entry on a Home Office database.
If the new registration system is not straight forward and seamless it could lead to further unthinkable confusion, delays and errors. Let’s not forget the kind of errors that wrongly led to 100 EU nationals being asked to leave the country this summer, with bank accounts being wrongly closed down and legal UK residents incorrectly being asked to leave the country.
As applications in more and more different visa categories are being diverted to Sheffield, applicants are starting to face increasingly unacceptable delays in receiving a decision on their applications within normal timeframes. These delays are affecting applicants from both in and out of the UK.
The problem is that the Home Office is finding it difficult to entice staff to move to Sheffield; and this is having an impact on Home Office departments that handle student visas, visa applications for work permits, family cases and premium services.
The Home Secretary has promised “by late autumn” to publish a White Paper with proposals for a new immigration system post Brexit. This will also be the basis for next year’s Brexit Immigration bill.
A survey of 250 employers presented to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association’s (ILPA’s) AGM last Saturday found that , 47% of employers had reported a decrease in applications from EEA staff, 39% of employers reported a loss of staff who were European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and 13% had increased their sponsorship of non-EEA workers.
If you have any concerns about a current application you have submitted to the Home Office or need any kind of Immigration advice, please contact our Specialist Immigration Team.