Examination of Witness

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 12th February 2019.

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Chai Patel:

We have a number of recommendations that we would make if the settlement scheme remained an application process, but we think that, by far the simplest, most cost-effective and safest thing to do is to make it a declaratory scheme immediately and for all EU nationals and all relevant individuals who are currently in the UK under the EU treaties to be granted a legal right, as of law, permanently to remain in the UK. They should then be given the opportunity, over a number of years and with no strict cut-off, to register for documents as they need them.

I understand that concern has been expressed about how to encourage people to apply if there is no cut-off. I think that people will need those documents as part of their day-to-day lives and will apply for them when they need to. It is really important that they are not at risk of becoming undocumented because they have not done so. I hesitate to suggest this because we do not agree with it, but at the moment, the penalty for failing to apply is to lose your status. I understand that there are potentially exceptional circumstances or even some good reasons that might mean that you do not lose it, but the default is that you will lose your status. It is not beyond the wit of Government, if they want to, to devise some other incentive scheme that does not involve losing immigration status.