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Helpful changes for family members applying under the EU Settlement Scheme

Helpful changes for family members applying under the EU Settlement Scheme

Changes to Appendix EU and Appendix EU (Family Permit) to the Immigration Rules come into force on 6 October 2021. This post attempts to flag the significant changes that are likely to impact on current and future applications.

Joining family members

As far as Appendix EU is concerned, the first major change was flagged in CJ’s initial post on the statement of changes. This concerns those seeking indefinite leave to enter or remain under paragraph EU11A as a joining family member, or limited leave under Para EU14A. Such applicants still need to meet the same family relationship and residence requirements, but the requirement not to be in the UK as a visitor will be removed. 

It is not clear how much of an impact this amendment will have but it is welcome in principle. Family members will have been affected by travel disruptions and restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and this easing may assist those seeking to re-establish their rights of residence in the UK who may have ended up returning here as visitors.

As a consequence, the definition of “visitor” will also be deleted from Annex 1.

Family permits

Then we have the changes to Annex 1, which — with its never-ending list of definitions and gobbledygook sub-paragraphs — will leave readers with nightmares forever.

One set of changes, which is significant, is the insertion of express references to absences caused by Covid-19. I am very relieved that this has already been covered by Alex Piletska, whose use of plain English is positively refreshing!

The next set of changes all relate to the definition (in Annex 1) and the use (in all other relevant paragraphs of Appendix EU) of a “relevant document”.  This is a document that some categories of applicants, such as dependent relatives, must have in order to have their family relationship recognised.

The main types of “relevant document” have so far included the following:

(a)(i)(aa) a family permit, registration certificate, residence card, document certifying permanent residence, permanent residence card or derivative residence card issued by the UK under the EEA Regulations on the basis of an application made under the EEA Regulations before (in the case, where the applicant is not a dependent relative, of a family permit) 1 July 2021 and otherwise before the specified date;

From 6 October 2021, this will instead read “a family permit (or a letter from the Secretary of State, issued after 30 June 2021, confirming their qualification for one)”. This may be a response to litigation begun earlier this summer to provide a solution to all of the applicants overseas who applied for a family permit before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, but who have not yet been issued with one.  

Until recently, such applicants were being told that since 30 June 2021 there has been no power for the Home Secretary to issue family permits to enable their travel to the UK or even if such a power still exists, permits would not be valid for onward travel to the UK. We can only hope that the change will help smooth this issue out,  But it is unclear how a “letter” will enable such applicants to come to the UK and there are bound to be applicants facing these issues in-country as well.

Sarah is a specialist immigration barrister at Goldsmith Chambers in London. She also practices in family law and has a particular interest in cross-over issues within the two areas of law. Prior to joining the Bar, Sarah worked for 6 years in the not-for-profit sector as a specialist immigration caseworker.