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Retail businesses urged to help European staff with settled status applications

With less than two weeks for Europeans to apply for settled status, retail businesses are urged to help European staff with outstanding applications, says global immigration lawyers Fragomen.

EU nationals have until 30 June to get their applications in for settled status or face becoming illegal immigrants overnight. EU nationals without settled or pre-settled status will be unable to work, open a bank account, access healthcare or rent a home.

There is no legal responsibility for businesses to check whether an employee has applied or been granted settled status, but we are urging employers to help staff and their families apply, says Ian Robinson, Partner at Fragomen, a global immigration firm.

“Over 5.4m people have applied for settled status in the past two years, with 53% having been granted settled status and 44% granted pre-settled status, yet there are many Europeans that have yet to apply.

“Businesses face a tricky challenge in that there is no legal basis in which they can ask staff if they have applied or obtained settled or pre-settled status. In fact, they potentially face discrimination claims if employers insist staff tell them.

“We would, however, urge employers to talk to all their staff, not just those who are European nationals and offer help and guidance with applications. There is now a degree of urgency to act.”

The message Fragomen recommends businesses give staff and their families are simple:

  • You are eligible for settled or pre-settled status if you or your family members are an EU, EEA or Swiss national and were in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020.
  • The application is straight-forward and will take around 20 minutes via an intuitive home office app or website. In most cases, the Home Office can track residency against tax or benefits records.
  • The application can take up to four weeks to be processed, after which you will be awarded a digital status rather than a stamp in a passport. You only need to apply by 30 June.
  • Do not lose track of that digital status as it will be needed when looking for work or renting a property.

Ian adds: “Businesses can offer to help staff and their families with applications and, importantly for staff with pre-settled status, monitor the time frame to applying for settled status. Now is the time for employers to act.”