Personal Immigration

Home Office: "the EU Settled Status Scheme works."

A Home Office report insists that the EU Settled Status scheme works well, despite people with iPhones being unable to apply.

Over the last three months, 1053 EU citizens living or working in Liverpool took part in the ‘Private Beta 1’ test, where they used an early version of the system to apply for Settled Status. All completed their applications using a Home Office laptop, with support from UK Visas and Immigration staff. When the Settled Status scheme goes live, however, no such support will be available; and applicants will have to use their own devices.

The EU Settled Status scheme is a vital part of the UK Government’s negotiations for leaving the European Union. By providing a means for EU citizens who live in the UK to remain after Brexit, the Government hopes to appease the EU and win similar rights for UK citizens living in one of the EU27 nations. EU nationals in the UK, however, have complained about what they see as a lack of information about how the scheme will work, and who will be eligible.

To test the application process, the Home Office invited staff from 12 NHS organisations in Liverpool, and students and staff from three Liverpool universities to take part in a trial. 1053 people used an early version of the system to apply for Settled Status. The Home Office has not said how many applications were successful. Officials have said that the average time to receive a decision was under 9 days.

Verifying the identity of the applicants is an important part of the Settled Status scheme. The Home Office had hoped to achieve this by asking EU citizens using a smartphone app to scan the biometric chip in their passports (or other ID document). Automated systems can then match the information gathered from passports with existing HMRC and UKVI records to prove identity, speeding up the process. In a serious blow, however, it has not proved possible to design an app for iPhones which can carry out this task.

The Home Office say they are in negotiations with Apple, trying to solve the problem. Any solution would involve bypassing what Apple say are important security protections for their devices, though, and so seems unlikely. There is still no way to know whether applications using an iPhone will be possible, or whether Apple users will have to post their passport to the Home Office, with all the challenges that involves.

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