Changes to Home Office rules

Today, Munira has written to the Home Office regarding recent changes to the rules of EU nationals applying for British citizenship. The rules have been tightened, making it more difficult for them to apply.

This follows several constituents getting in touch with Munira who are concerned about the new changes.

The new rules mean that having ‘settled status’ is no longer sufficient to meet the requirements of British citizenship. Freedom Movement provides specific details of the changes here.

Currently, there are 14,560 EU nationals living in Richmond upon Thames who are applying for ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled status’ under the EU citizenship scheme. They could be affected if they wish to apply for British citizenship.

Munira has written to the Home Office, seeking clarification for how these new rules will be applied and how the government plans to make EU nationals aware of these changes.

Munira’s response

Responding to these new changes in the citizenship rules, Munira said:

“It’s hard to believe that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservatives are sneakily pushing ahead with changes that make it harder for EU nationals to apply for citizenship.

Now more than we ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions EU nationals make, particularly in our NHS, social care and across our society.

I am particularly worried that the changes have been sneaked through the back door with very little scrutiny or consultation.

That’s why I am pushing the Government to be transparent on why it has made these changes, and how they intend to ensure all EU nationals are aware of them.”

The letter to the Home Office

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Priti Patel,

I am writing regarding the recent changes in the Home Office’s guidance entitled “Naturalisation as a British citizen by discretion nationality policy guidance”.

The guidance was updated on 15th May to include the following:

“An EEA or Swiss citizen or their family members who have a 5 years’ continuous qualifying period of residence in the UK and Islands when they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme will be eligible for settled status… However, this grant of settled status (also know as indefinite leave to enter or remain) will not confirm that they were here lawfully under the EEA Regulations during that time, as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981 as this is not a requirement of the EU Settlement Scheme. You may therefore need to request further information from the applicant to demonstrate this.”

The updated guidance also goes on to tell officials in assessing whether an individual has been here lawfully during their 3 or 5 year residential period prior to pre-settled or settled status, that they must consider whether they were a ‘qualified person’ or as a family member of a qualified person.

This update marks a significant change in the UK Government’s naturalisation policy in relation to ‘settled status’. It was previously understood that EU citizens obtaining ‘settled status’ was sufficient proof to satisfy the ‘5-year residential’ requirement of the naturalisation process.

This has led to significant concerns from my constituents that the terms by which citizens can obtain British citizenship have just been further tightened. There are some EU nationals who qualify as having “settled status”, but do not meet the new requirements of being “self-sufficient” when the EU citizen arrived here.

Please can you confirm whether these new rules are intended as clarification of previous rules and if so, will they be applied retrospectively? Can you also confirm how you are ensuring all EU citizens have been informed of this change? Lastly, what was the reasoning for making these changes, that now make it more difficult for EU citizens to apply for citizenship here?

I look forward to hearing your response.

Yours sincerely,