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Challenging Delays to EU Settlement Scheme Applications

In an earlier post we looked at how to avoid delays in EU Settlement Scheme applications.  In this post, we consider how applicants can challenge delays in the processing of EU Settlement Scheme applications effectively. 

Challenging Delays to EU Settlement Scheme Applications

The clock usually starts ticking for EU Settlement Scheme applications when the online application form is submitted using the EU Exit app. For those who need to post their identity document into the Home Office, time starts when that document is received, and for non-EEA family members who need to attend a biometrics appointment, it starts when the biometrics are received by the Home Office. Applicants will not get far chasing a decision before a reasonable time has passed from this date. 

Step 1 – Contacting the EU Settlement Resolution Centre

Once a reasonable time has passed, it is possible to contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre (SRC) to request an update on your application. The SRC can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 7379 if the applicant is inside the UK, or +44 (0)203 080 0010 if they are outside the UK.

Usually it is possible to speak to someone promptly, and they should be able to tell you what stage the application has reached. For example, they may tell you that your application is ‘at the Suitability Stage’. If so, asking the SRC what information or documents you could provide to move past this stage, and then seeking out and uploading that information onto your online application form, can be an effective way of advancing the process. 

If you have already been subject to delay, the SRC may promise to ‘escalate’ your case. Although not always entirely meaningless, this promise can feel empty, particularly when an application remains stalled after several ‘escalations’.

It is also possible to contact the SRC using an online form. Select ‘After you have submitted your application’ and request an update on your application’s progress, noting the length of time you have already waited for a decision and any impact that the delay has had on you so far (e.g. missed job opportunities or housing problems). 

It is a good idea to keep records of every contact you make with the SRC, as later on in the process of challenging delay, these records can be invaluable in showing delay is unreasonable and unexplained. 

Step 2 – Submitting a complaint to UKVI

If the SRC’s escalations fail to lift an application out of the Suitability Stage, it may be useful to make a complaint using the online complaints form

In doing so, it is important to specify why the service the applicant has received has been unsatisfactory. For example, it can be helpful to state how long you have waited, list the attempts you have made to advance the process, and provide reasons why the wait is not reasonable. The Home Office aims to respond to applicants within 20 working days. 

Again, it is important to keep a clear and complete record of your complaint. If you ultimately try to challenge a delay in the courts, evidence of all the steps you have taken to inform the Home Office of your complaint against them will be essential. 

Step 3 – Asking your Member of Parliament for help

If a complaint does not prompt a decision, or even progress on your case, it is possible to contact your Member of Parliament (MP). You can find your MP’s contact details here

MPs are able to make direct contact with UKVI to seek reasons for the delay and request information about your case. Ensure you provide them with all relevant information including your application number and a list of all attempts you have already made to end the delay. 

MPs can be very helpful, and once the wait has become unreasonable or detrimental, asking for their help can often bring about an effective solution.

Step 4 – Considering legal action

If, when you have taken all other available action, an application remains stalled at the Suitability Stage, it may be that the only remaining option is to consider legal action. 

It is not possible to ‘appeal’ a Home Office delay, but it is possible to ask a judge to review a government body’s action, or failure to act, in certain circumstances. In short, if the delay is unlawful, highly irrational, procedurally unfair or in breach of your rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, then a ‘Judicial Review’ may be open to you.

Before lodging a Judicial Review, it is necessary to prepare a Letter Before Action in Pre-Action Protocol, outlining the applicant’s complaint in full, explaining the reasons why the delay is unlawful, irrational, procedurally unfair, or a breach of an applicant’s human rights, and providing evidence of all attempts so far to end the delay. Sometimes, this letter can prompt the Home Office to act, but sometimes the stalemate continues so that the sole remaining option is to lodge the Judicial Review. 

If you wish to take this path, then it is certainly advisable to seek detailed legal advice. Although Judicial Review can be a very effective way of holding the Home Office to account for a long and unnecessary delay, the costs risks are significant. It is also a complex area of law and procedure which can be confusing to navigate without a lawyer specialising in Judicial Review. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance challenging delays to applications under Appendix EU, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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