Future Borders & Immigration System Update: Right to Work and EU Settlement Schemes

NITA are a member of the Home Office Future Borders and Immigration System (FBIS) All Advisory Group which provides updates and information on all aspects of Border and Immigration policy relating to visitors and employment. This is the updates from the September and October 2023 meetings.

Right to Work Scheme

Civil Penalty Increases – Illegal Working 
The Home Office shared an update stating that Illegal working referral notices and civil penalties have increased in the region of 100% compared to previous years. Legislation to increase the civil penalty is planned to be laid before parliament this Autumn with the legislation taking effect in January 2024. 

In this initial phase the civil penalty for employers is to be raised to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach from the current penalty of £15,000, and £60,000 per illegal worker for repeat breaches from £20,000.

The Home Office noted that they are increasing their engagement in the run up to this and at the same time re-affirmed a commitment to continuing the programme of simplifying and modernising the system of checks.

Identity Service Providers (IDSP’s)
Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) were introduced to the scheme in April last year. It is UK wide 
and there is a list of Government Certified Identity Service providers available HERE. Details on digital identity for the right to work scheme can be accessed HERE

EU Settlement Scheme

The EEA Citizens Rights and BNO presented an overview of changes to the EU Settlement Scheme and
proposals to implement the IMA JR Judgement, following the laying of the immigration rules on 17 July.

Automatic Extension of Pre-Settled Status

  • Pre-settled status extended by two years. Extensions started this month for those approaching the expiry date of their original grant.
  • Initially extension will be applied automatically to digital status without any checks on whether the individual continues to meet the criteria.
  • There is no need for anyone to contact the Home Office. Individuals will be notified directly – email (and post).
  • Extensions will be applied at the start of each month to those whose status expires the following month, meaning extensions will take place between one and two months before the original expiry date.
  • The extension will apply to all pre-settled status holders, whether covered by the Withdrawal
    Agreement or not.

Longer term approach

  • During 2024, once the systems are in place, we then plan to move to an approach where we are making one automated decision to either convert an individual to settled status or extend their pre- settled status.
  • Currently working through the details of how process will be administered including what, if
    anything, individuals will need to do before their status is converted to settled status and what
    safeguards we put in place to ensure technology resilience. We will provide an update on this in
    due course.
  • Related to this process, we also intend to take a more proactive approach using government-held
    data to check whether a person continues to meet the criteria for pre-settled status, before pre-
    settled status is extended – will require caseworker intervention and engagement with the
    individual so will not be part of the fully automated process.

Applications for Settled Status

  • In the meantime, pre-settled status holders do not need to wait to be automatically converted to
    settled status and can apply to switch free of charge as soon as they are eligible to do so.
  • Given automation is contingent upon utilising HMRC and DWP data to confirm a person’s continuous
    residence, not everyone will be automatable so some will need to apply for settled status.
  • We will therefore continue to encourage people to apply for settled status and there will
    continue to be a range of help available to applicants who need it.
  • As of 30 June 2023, over 600,000 people had already switched from pre-settled to settled

Automatic acquisition of permanent residence

  • The judgment also found that an EUSS status holder acquires the right of permanent residence
    under the Withdrawal Agreement automatically once the conditions for it are met.
  • Automatically switching pre-settled status holders to settled status and encouraging
    applications for settled status supports our policy aim to align an individual’s EUSS status with
    their Withdrawal Agreement where possible.
  • Beyond this, we are working to ensure an individual can rely on their Withdrawal Agreement right
    of permanent residence and, where relevant, the date of acquisition of that right – updating
    relevant customer and caseworker guidance to reflect the judgment and considering whether any
    domestic legislation needs to be amended to reflect the judgment.

Other changes to the EU Settlement Scheme

  • Late application changes
  • Preventing illegal entrants from applying as a joining family member