EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME
Late Applications – Relevant People from Northern Ireland (RPNI)
On the 24th August 2020, the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) opened up to family members of relevant people from Northern Ireland (people born in Northern Ireland who, at the time of their birth had a parent who was British/Irish or both). The rules changed in line with the publication of the ‘New Decade, New Approach,’ framework for government in Northern Ireland. The immigration section of the deal allowed for certain people from Northern Ireland to be afforded the same rights as other EEA citizens in the UK when it came to family reunion following the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Prior to this change, only other EEA citizens, and not those who are Irish and also entitled to British citizenship, could apply.
This excluded people from Northern Ireland who were entitled to dual Irish / British citizenship from sponsoring their non-EEA family members to join them under a much more favourable scheme than the regular family visa options under the UK immigration rules.
The public may be aware of the issue as a result of a campaign driven by Emma and Jake DeSouza which focused on the rights of dual Irish /British citizens to access the same immigration entitlements as other EU citizens as the UK exited the European Union and departed from the principles of Free Movement. The practice of renunciation of British citizenship by dual Irish / British citizens to access EU Treaty Rights was well established at this point but the 2020 rule change negated the need to do this.
It has become increasingly apparent that many people who would have been eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme did not apply. In most cases people didn’t realise they were eligible, so they applied for leave to remain or an extension of their leave through the UK domestic immigration family rules. Other people were told by employers or organisations that the scheme did not include people from Northern Ireland, but only other EU citizens. Recently, we have encountered many examples of people who did not apply as they prepare to renew their spousal visa, apply for permanent residence or explore the option of citizenship.
By not applying for residence through the EU Settlement Scheme such individuals incurred significant expense and may continue to do so. Aside from the difference in fees (it is free to make an EU Settlement application), the rights and entitlements are arguably more favourable when one obtains pre-settled or settled status as opposed to The scheme officially closed after the ‘grace period’ extension ended on the 30th June 2021, however, in certain cases, anyone who meets the eligibility and suitability criteria, may be able to make a late application. The EEA citizen or the ‘Relevant Person from Northern Ireland,’ must have been in the UK on or before the 31st December 2020 to apply.
We have been advising clients if there is an option for them to submit a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme, if indeed they satisfy all of the criteria.
If you need further information or advice please contact our immigration team:
T: 028 3026 2200