Caroline Nokes, the Immigration Minister: We are absolutely committed to make it as easy as possible for romanians to stay in the UK
- The scenario of a No Deal Brexit is causing distress amongst the Romanian migrants living in the UK. Should Romanians living in the UK be worried for their future in the UK in case of a No Deal Brexit?
- No, I don’t think they should. The government here has been very clear in its unilateral commitment to the rights of EU citizens living here. I am very conscious that we have in the region of 400,000 Romanian nationals who have made their home in the United Kingdom. I want them to stay. We have introduced a simple and straight forward scheme for them to apply to be able to get their settled status. And I think my message is one of reassurance. Deal or no Deal these are people who have contributed to our communities, to our way of life, to our economy and we are determined to protect their rights in the UK.
- The number of Romanians living in the UK continued to increase after the referendum for Brexit, many having arrived in the past 12 months. Obtaining a National Insurance Number, getting a job, registering as self-employed are all processes which take time to complete. Should the UK leave the EU without a deal on the 29th of March will those migrants be able to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme?
- Absolutely. Anybody who was here before the 29th of March will be able to apply under the scheme, they will have to evidence who they are, so their identity, they will have to evidence that they are in the UK. But then we will have a really broad range of evidence that we will be happy to use in order for them to be able to prove that they are here.
So for many citizens who have already been through the process, and I know that 20,000 Romanian nationals have already applied for settled status ( that’s the highest number of any nationality) for them they would have been through and the vast majority of them would have evidenced their right through their Tax records or through their records with the DWP. They wouldn’t have had to provide any additional information. But for those who are here before the 29th of March the process is going to be straight forward and the Home Office is determined to give those people who need additional support to go through the process the help that they need to do so.
There is a wide range of information we will accept from Romanians living here as evidence of their stay in the UK
- While the application for settled/pre-settled status works very fast in most cases, there are cases in which applicants applying for settled status are being requested to submit evidence proving being in the UK for the past six months. This can cause panic for unskilled workers and their family, with limited access to official information and poor English knowledge. They apply for settled status, having been in the UK for 5 years or more, and the system after processing information is asking for evidence for the past 6 months to grant them pre-settled status. What would you as the immigration minister, advise these Romanian migrants?
- So we know that 79% of cases who have been through have not had to produce any other information as the government data has been able to evidence it for them. But there is a wide range of information we will accept from Romanians living here as evidence of their stay in the UK that could be something as simple and straight forward as a tenancy agreement from where they are living, it could be bank statements, maybe utility bills, or phone bills, a mobile phone bill would be evidence.
They could demonstrate to us they were registered with a doctor in the UK in the locality where they were living. So we are very happy to look at a whole wide range of evidence of people stay in the UK and we are undertaking that if people have to send us their documents, they can do that online, so they can upload them and send them to us via email or any documentation that is to us in hard copy will of course be sent right back to people.
- So basically what you are saying is that even if the system can not automatically find their residence they should definitely submit evidence and not be scared of not being automatically identified in the application process?
- Absolutely and my message is one of reasoning for to help them demonstrate their right to be here not for reasons to prove they can’t be here so it’s a very positive system, it’s a very positive commitment by the UK government to make sure that we will provide assistance. And we want that, we want people to be able to obtain their settled status and then going forward to have that permanent evidence of their right to be in the UK.
- As the Immigration Minister of the United Kingdom, what is your message before Brexit for the Romanians living in the UK who now count as the second largest non-British nationality in the UK?
- I think it was two or three weeks ago I travelled to Bucharest for the first time ever. I had never been to your beautiful country and whilst I was there I had the most warm welcome that I could want from any other country. So my message to Romanians here is that I want you to feel welcomed in this country. Many of them would have made Britain their home over several years and we wanted to be an easy system whereby they could apply to stay and get their evidence that they have settled status.
I know that they have made a massive contribution to our society, to out economy, they are friends, are neighbours and are colleagues and we are absolutely committed to make it as easy as possible for them to stay in the UK.