Speaking for Ourselves

Make your mind up, Immigration Minister

Make your mind up, Immigration Minister


 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Make your mind up, Immigration Minister



The shock announcement by Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes goes against everything the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the EU have said about the rights of EU citizens after Brexit day.

Nokes now says that employers must check if EU nationals have the right to work after 29 March 2019 in the event of no deal, leaving millions of people at risk of being unlawfully denied work if they cannot prove they were in the UK before that date.

According to the current agreement, EU nationals arriving until 31 December 2020 could apply for “settled status”.

Nokes says this could change, with EU nationals arriving after Brexit day ineligible to apply for that status or indeed to work, as new immigration rules come into effect.

Her announcement blatantly contradicts a statement by the Home Secretary at the launch of the EU Settlement Scheme toolkit in July, attended by Migrant Voice, where he repeated the Prime Minister’s promise that EU nationals would not lose any rights, “deal or no deal”.

The toolkit for employers, launched at the event in the presence of Nokes, states that “current ‘right to work’ checks apply until the end of 2020. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021.”

It’s a disgrace that all EU citizens are again facing a chaotic and uncertain future, with the Home Office again raising doubts about their rights and stirring up concerns for employers.

It’s a disgrace that all EU nationals currently in the UK – even if they’ve been here for decades – now have to worry if they want to change jobs, if they are freelancers, or if their employers are confused or put off by the requirements.

One of our members, an EU national living in London, said: "After months of worry and suspension in uncertainty I had allowed myself to be reassured by the statements by UK and EU governments that my rights would be secured, that I didn't need to worry about my right to stay.

“This announcement from the Immigration Minister that Employers should start checking immigration status and that it will be difficult to do so – starts the worry all over.

“Apparently nothing is secure. Apparently I should worry again about proving my right to be here and work. My flatmate is already being asked if she has the right to work here as an EU national - and this is months before Brexit day. It is only going to get worse with this announcement."

Sabrina Huck, a German citizen living and working in London, says that most Europeans in the UK no longer have any confidence in the Home Office.

“EU citizens will find themselves in a Kafkaesque situation in which we need to demonstrate rights we didn’t need to prove a few days before, through an application to a scheme that the vast majority of us will not have had any access to.

“We still don’t even know whether the settled status application scheme will work on such a large scale as it is currently in its trial period.

“With 150 days to go until Brexit and none of these questions sorted, we are heading towards a car crash for three million European nationals.”

We say once again that the rights of EU citizens in the UK must be unilaterally guaranteed, whether there is a deal or not.

Director of Migrant Voice, Nazek Ramadan, says that this is ever more urgent as the likelihood of a deal is now unclear.

“The UK government and the EU must honour their promises and they must do so now.”

UPDATE (1 November 2018): A few hours after this statement was first published, the Home Office sent an email clarifying their position. Current checks "will not change next March in the event we leave the EU without a deal," the email said. "EU citizens will continue to be able to evidence their right to work by showing a passport or national identity card. Employers will not be expected to differentiate between resident EU citizens and those arriving after exit."

While this is good news, there are still no concrete measures in place to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK after Brexit day and many remain fearful and confused about their future. Their rights must be guaranteed, deal or no deal.