It was supposed to be simple. If you’re an EU citizen, and you’ve been resident in the UK for five years, you have the right to remain after the United Kingdom has left the EU. The government said you could apply for ‘settled status’ and your family, your home, your life could all carry on largely as before.

Of course, it was never going to be so easy. With three million people to register, no civil service experience delivering a similar scheme, and political volatility in negotiations with the EU and at home, some saw that it would be necessary to act to ensure people had access to their legal right to remain. We set up the only pooled fund supporting work to make sure these legal rights are obtained and disruption to people’s lives is minimal: the Transition Advice Fund.

We’ve supported work that helped people understand the context and the needs of EU citizens here, we’ve worked with the Home Office on the design of the scheme, and we’ve identified groups who are particularly vulnerable to missing out on their legal entitlements. We were the first and are the largest funder of the3million, whose advocacy work helped pass the Costa amendment supposedly securing citizens rights, and was crucial in overturning the £65 fee for registering for settled status.

Many of the problems we’ve identified have still not be resolved, but, like most, we thought the fundamental basis of the right to stay in the country was agreed. However, the announcement on the 19th of August that ‘free movement, as it currently stands will end on October 31′ (a break with the previous government’s policy) changes all that.

As many have pointed out, there will be no way to distinguish between people who were here legally resident before October 31st but have yet to register, and people who arrive afterwards without the right to live and work.

So far, only a million people entitled to stay have registered. This leaves two and half million people’s right to remain in this country, their right to the lives and families they have built here, in jeopardy should Britian leave with no deal. Today the government has announced its intention to prorogue parliament to stop attempts to put anti no-deal legislation before the house ahead of the United Kingdoms’ exit date on the 31 of October. This means No Deal, and what for the two and half million was described as ‘Windrush on steroids’ by Jeremy Corbyn, seems more and more likely by the day.

We don’t want to stop Brexit, and we can’t stop No Deal, but we need now more than ever to make sure those who were told they have a legal right to stay here can access that right.

And, we need your support in order to do so. The TAF is currently looking for new funders to join its advisory and grants panels.

If you are interested in how you can help make sure that all those at risk secure their rights, please do get in touch at Theo.Clay@thinknpc.org or Sarah.Denselow@thinknpc.org.

“BRITAIN-EU/IMMIGRATION”by Jim Larrison is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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