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New Guidance on Late Surinder Singh Applications

In our previous blog post, we discussed the closure of the route for British Citizens to make applications under the EU Settlement Scheme for family permits for their family members to return with or join them in the UK. This route, known as the ‘Surinder Singh’ route, closed to applications on Tuesday 29 March 2022 at 23:00 GMT

On 23 March 2022, a few days before the closure of this route, the Home Office published an updated version of its guidance regarding applications on this route which are made late, after the 29 March 2022 deadline. 

Surinder Singh Application Deadline & Late Applications

Appendix EU, which contains the provisions for family members applying for pre-settled or settled status under the Surinder Singh route, incorporates the 29 March 2022 deadline within the definitions of a “qualifying British citizen” and “a family member of a qualifying British citizen” at Annex 1. 

Both of these definitions contain the requirement that “they have (or, as the case may be, had) returned to the UK” … “before 2300 GMT on 29 March 2022 (or later where the Secretary of State is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the person’s failure to meet that deadline)”. 

This means that both qualifying British citizens and their family members who are returning with them to the UK with a family permit visa must have arrived in the UK before 23:00 on 29 March 2022. 

If either the qualifying British citizen or their family member did not return to the UK before this deadline, Appendix EU does allow for late applications to be made “where the Secretary of State is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the person’s failure to meet that deadline.” The Home Office guidance published on 23 March 2022 contains more information about what will be considered to be “reasonable grounds”

Delay in receiving EUSS family permit 

The guidance firstly confirms that those family members who had applied for a family permit under the EU Settlement Scheme, and have not yet received a decision, will still be able to apply on the Surinder Singh route once a decision is made on their application, they receive their permit, and they return to the UK. The guidance states that if this is the case, “[t]he applicant does not need to provide […] any further information as to why that deadline was not met.” 

However, the applicant should then make their application for pre-settled or settled status: 

  • as soon as they reasonably can after their arrival in the UK; and
  • generally within 3 months following their arrival in the UK. 

If they do so, they do not need to provide any evidence or information as to why the deadline to return to the UK was not met, and the decision maker will consider that there were reasonable grounds for their failure to meet it. 

For those who did not make their application for a family permit visa before 29 March 2022, and therefore did not enter the UK before this date, the guidance provides the following examples of reasonable grounds for failing to meet the deadline. The guidance specifies that these examples are “not exhaustive and every case must be considered in light of its particular circumstances.” 

For each example, the guidance also indicates types of relevant evidence which can be considered. You may wish to seek professional legal advice before making an application, in order to establish how best to present your reasons and what other evidence may assist in your circumstances.

Employment 

There will be reasonable grounds for missing the deadline for returning to the UK if the British citizen or their family member had an employment contract in the EEA host country which: 

  • continued to run beyond 29 March 2022; and 
  • terminated within the period of 6 months following 29 March 2022.

The guidance indicates that relevant evidence may include a letter from the relevant employer, or a copy of the contract.

Study 

There will also be reasonable grounds for missing the deadline for returning to the UK if the British citizen or their family member was enrolled in a “formal course of study” in the EEA host country, which: 

  • continued to run beyond 29 March 2022; and 
  • terminated within the period of 6 months following 29 March 2022. 

The guidance identifies relevant evidence in this case as a letter from the college. 

School Terms 

There will also be reasonable grounds for missing the deadline if a child (of either the British citizen or their spouse or civil partner) would have had to have been taken out of their school in the EEA host country “in the middle of the school term”, in order for the family to return to the UK by 29 March 2022. 

The applicant may provide relevant evidence including a letter from the relevant school or education authority.

Serious Medical Condition, Significant Medical Treatment, Pregnancy or Maternity

There will be  reasonable grounds for missing the deadline if the British citizen or their family member, before 29 March 2022, was: 

  • Suffering from a “serious medical condition”, defined as “an illness (including COVID-19) or accident which meant that the person was hospitalised, bedbound or otherwise unable to travel ahead of the applicable deadline”
  • Undergoing “significant medical treatment”; or 
  • Unable to return to the UK for reasons relating to pregnancy or maternity – for example, where “a woman was unable to fly due to pregnancy or had a difficult childbirth or where a new-born child was in need of medical treatment.”

In these situations, relevant evidence may consist of a letter from a doctor or other health professional confirming the circumstances. 

Other Compelling or Compassionate Reasons, including Adoption

Other compelling practical or compassionate reasons may amount to a reasonable ground for missing the deadline to return to the UK. The guidance gives the example of a family waiting for the outcome of an adoption decision, as long as the adoption proceedings were initiated by 29 March 2022. 

The guidance also includes the examples of compelling practical or compassionate reasons causing an applicant to be delayed in obtaining the requisite evidence of identity and nationality to apply for an EUSS family permit, in the light of wider current circumstances such as:

  • the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • the war in Ukraine. 

Late EUSS application after entering the UK late

The guidance confirms that if the  entry clearance officer accepts there are reasonable grounds for the late family permit application and therefore the late arrival in the UK, it will also be automatically accepted that there are therefore reasonable grounds for the subsequent EUSS application after the applicant eventually arrives in the UK.  Further information and evidence is not needed. 

Late EUSS application after entering the UK on time 

However, if an applicant did return to the UK by 29 March 2022 but then failed to make an application for settled or pre-settled status by this date, the applicant must give a good reason for this delay. 

The guidance gives the following (non-exhaustive) list of  reasons which include some (but not all) of those set out above: 

  • A serious medical condition; 
  • significant medical treatment;
  • pregnancy or maternity. 

It should be noted that, unlike the  grounds for EU residents of the UK and their family members applying late to the EU Settlement Scheme, a lack of knowledge of the deadline is not included as a reason for applying late. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with a late Surinder Singh application, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London 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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