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When free movement ends:protecting the rights of EU Citizens in Wales

June 5th 2020

Freedom of movement comes to an end on 31st December 2020. This paper sets out what this means for EU citizens who wish to stay in Wales:

  • EU citizens need to apply to the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Those who can demonstrate five years or more residency will be granted settled status; those with shorter residence will receive pre-settled status and will need to reapply for full status in due course.
  • Those who do not apply by 30th June 2021 will, in theory, lose their legal basis to stay in the UK .They could face a hostile environment and possible removal from the UK.
  • Applicants only receive digital confirmation of their status, and do not receive any physical evidence.
  • Despite campaigns calling for changes to this system, it is unlikely that the policy will change. Therefore it is crucial that EU citizens who want to stay apply to the scheme.

Feedback from EU citizens and stakeholders

  • There are concerns that there is a general lack of awareness about the scheme in Wales, and that many people do not understand that they need to apply.
  • Many EU citizens face barriers when accessing their rights because of misinformation or, at worst, discrimination.
  • Face-to-face information and advice sessions have stopped due to Coronavirus, and those who are digitally excluded will not be able to access support through digital platforms.

How can Welsh Government support EU citizens?

  • Welsh Government has been supporting EU citizens by providing free advice, information and awareness raising initiatives. Yet, many more people still need to apply and time is passing.
  • As a matter of urgency, the Welsh Government needs to increase communication with EU citizens and increase activity by outreach and advice so that they both raise general awareness and also reach particularly vulnerable groups. This support needs to continue beyond June 2021 deadline to support EU citizens who have not applied or who need to re-apply for settled status.
  • To prevent discrimination when accessing services, frontline staff should receive training so they are not misinformed about EU citizens’ rights and can provide general advice and/or signpost to another service.

Report format: PDF
Language: English
Page:  10
Cost:  Free

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