Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Vivienne Stern:

We have not called for the deadline to be extended or scrapped. We feel that there is time for us to get the message out that these individuals need to apply for settled status and we are certainly working on that front.

Our bigger concern is about the possible difficulties created by the no-deal Brexit scenario and by the regime that the Government have set out for an interim arrangement, between the point of a no-deal Brexit and the implementation of the new immigration system, which is currently being consulted on. There is a very significant concern about the time limits that will apply to those individuals who, having arrived in the UK after 29 March or whatever the date of Brexit is, have to apply for the European temporary leave to remain. That will only be valid for three years. A student who is planning to arrive in the UK after 29 March can come for three months—they don’t need anything for that three-month period. After that, we need something that gives people certainty that, if they are embarking on a programme that lasts longer than three years, they will not find they get towards their final year and, somehow, are not able to switch into a category that would allow them to remain in the UK.

It is that inability to say with certainty “Don’t worry, you come, you’ve got a status that will see you through this programme, you can stay to the end” that is tripping people up. Also, we need to be able to say to people “This is a registration scheme. It is not something you apply for and maybe you get and maybe you don’t.” If you have arrived in the UK, and you have started a programme—maybe a Scottish programme that lasts four years—you need to know that you are not going to be kicked out halfway through. If the Government could give some attention to that, we would be grateful. It’s not that we don’t appreciate that three years is longer than the period that would be covered by the withdrawal agreement—we do—but it is a kink and it could be ironed out.