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Hiring advice

What You Need to Know About the Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme


In an evolving landscape of post-Brexit immigration rules, EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) changes are noteworthy for EU workers and their employers. Understanding these changes is crucial to ensure you are compliant and avoid any hefty penalties.

Historically, EU workers without a rightful status under the EUSS could apply to EUSS and obtain a Certificate of Application (CoA) which gave them a statutory excuse for 6 months when checked through the Employer Checking Service. When the application was refused, or when the 6 months run out, applicants were able to make another application and continue working in the UK, however this changed from August 2023.

Key Changes Effective from August 9th, 2023

As of the 9th of August, 2023, the process has undergone significant changes. Late applicants need to demonstrate that they have “reasonable grounds” for their application delay before they can be issued a Certificate of Application.

The Home Office will conduct a thorough assessment to ascertain the validity of the application. This involves:

  • Verifying the applicant’s identity and biometrics.
  • Ensuring the entitlement to apply from outside the UK (where relevant).
  • Investigating the legality of entry into the UK, especially if joining a family member.
  • Evaluating the reasons for the delay in applying.

If the information provided is correct and the “reasonable grounds” are approved, a Certificate of Application will be issued. This together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Employer Checking Services will provide a time-limited statutory excuse lasting for six months.

Successful applicants will then receive a decision letter via email or post confirming their attainment of settled or pre-settled status.

Who Can Still Apply?

While the deadline for the majority to apply to the EUSS was on 30 June 2021, there are exceptions:

  • Family members of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein who had been residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have either settled or pre-settled status. This applies to those joining their family in the UK post 1 April 2021.
  • Children born or adopted in the UK after 1 April 2021.
  • Non-EU family members of eligible individuals from Northern Ireland.
  • Those exempt from immigration control or who ceased to be exempt post 30 June 2021.
  • Individuals with limited UK entry or stay permissions, such as work or study visas, that expire after 30 June 2021.

Grounds for Late Applications

Various reasons are accepted as “reasonable grounds” for missing the 30 June 2021 deadline. Some of these include:

  • Overlooked applications for minors by their guardians.
  • Medical condition, which prevent them from applying.
  • Lack of physical or mental capacity to apply.
  • Ongoing care or support needs.
  • Victims of modern slavery or abusive relationships.
  • Limited internet access or access to necessary documents.
  • Unawareness about the EUSS despite eligibility.
  • Lost permanent residence status post 30 June 2021. Had permanent residence status or a residence document that stopped being valid after 30 June 2021, and did not know you needed to apply to the scheme
  • Challenges accessing support due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Any other compelling, practical, or compassionate reason.

Automatic extension for pre-settled status

From September 2023, those with pre-settled status will receive an automatic 2-year extension, before it expires, if they have not obtained settled status. This will ensure that nobody loses their immigration status if they do not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status.

What about employees who were hired before July 2021?

Employers are not required to make retrospective right-to-work checks on EEA national or family member employees who joined before 1 July 2021. If it comes to light that the person needs to apply for EUSS, the employer can ask them to apply within 28 days. If they do not apply within the 28-day time frame, the employer is expected to terminate their contract.

What happens if you employ someone illegally?

If is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that any potential employee has been granted settled status, pre-settled status or a certificate of application. Failure to check for any of them can put you at risk of non-compliance and mean you face a fine of up to £20,000 per worker. This figure is set to escalate to a staggering £60,000 per worker in the coming year.

As an employer, you are able to utilise the Home Office tool called the Employer Checking Service to assess workers eligibility to work if the status it not yet established or if you are not able to obtain enough evidence for the statutory excuse to be granted.

How Safehands can help

As employment specialists, we have the understanding and knowledge to help make sure you and your employees are compliant. We vet all candidates and check their settled status so you can be confident in your next hire. For any more information or to find out how we can help, call us on 01242 505415 or email us at, and a specialist team member will be more than happy to help.

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