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Here for Good conducts strategic litigation, legal advocacy and policy work to advance the rights of the communities it supports. From running successful judicial review challenges against unlawful Home Office policy to coordinating advocacy to raise key concerns in the sector, our legal team works to fight back against injustice and hold the Home Office to account for its actions. Through such work, we have had a positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Here for Good has dedicated staff members working on legal policy issues related to the EUSS and Ukraine Advice Scheme. Bianca Valperga is our EUSS Legal Policy Officer working for Here for Good from the AIRE Centre. She is currently focused on a number of projects, including derivative rights, delays in decision making and pending prosecutions. Mala Savjani is our Ukraine Strategy and Policy Lead, working for Here for Good from Wilson Solicitors. They Ukraine team at Wilson Solicitors have been doing crucial work to ensure the scheme works fairly for unaccompanied minors. Mala is also currently exploring other areas where we can offer clients support and create systemic change, such as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.

We are always looking to collaborate and partner with other organisations on strategic work to ensure we are being as effective as possible. If you are a community-based organization or NGO with an issue you would like to work on us with, please do not hesitate to get in touch and include “Policy Work” in the subject line.

Find out more about our strategic litigation and advocacy projects conducted by our team below

“I had the privilege of acting for Here for Good in their judicial review of the EUSS Covid-19 guidance, which was restrictive and discriminatory. The government withdrew the guidance following Here for Good’s legal challenge. It takes a bold and dynamic charity to step up to be the claimant in a systemic judicial review, and it is a massive credit to Here for Good’s board and staff that the challenge happened and was so impactful.”

Ollie Persey – Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

On 17 July 2023 new Statements of Changes to the Immigration Rules were published. Several changes relate to the EU Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’). Here for Good’s EUSS legal policy officer and caseworker, Bianca Valperga, outlines the changes and explores anticipated issues.

Please note that we have decided to focus only on the issues that are the most prominent in our casework and that we feel we are in a good position to comment on.

Download the report here: https://hereforgoodlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/new-b-report.pdf

Here for Good and the AIRE Centre jointly intervened in the Court of Appeal case Celik v The Secretary of State for Home Department (CA-2022-002008). See the Upper Tribunal judgement [2022] UKUT 00220) here.

The case concerns a non-EEA national (Mr Celik) and his application to remain in the UK relying on his relationship to a EEA national. The couple met online in December 2019, and in person the following month and started cohabitating in February 2020. They decided to get married and contacted the council to register this intention in October 2020. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time, they were not given a date to marry until 9 April 2021. 

Mr Celik made two applications for leave to remain in the UK under the EUSS, one in October 2020 as a durable partner of an EEA national which was refused in March 2021 and a second application as the spouse of an EEA national which was refused in June 2021. In both decisions, the reason for refusal was that the required evidence of a family relationship has not been provided as Mr Celik was not in possession of a valid family permit, registration certificate or residence card under the EEA Regulations as of 31 December 2020 as required by Appendix EU.

Read our EUSS Legal policy officer and caseworker Bianca Valperga’s blogs about the case to learn more about our arguments and the judgment which was passed down on the 31st July 2023.

Through our EUSS advice service, Here for Good regularly encounters examples of Home Office decision-making which illustrates an over-reliance on standardised templates and lack of transparency and clarity in their communication with applicants. This report provides an overview of the real life impact in clients’ life by a system operating with opaque decision- making and communication.

The report argues that the way that the EUSS is designed is currently at odds with its ability to operate in a ‘smooth, transparent and simple’ manner’ and ‘help applicants to prove their eligibility and avoid any errors or omissions in their applications’ as required under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The aim of the report is to encourage the examination of how rights and duties established by Article 18 of Withdrawal Agreement are being upheld for EU citizens and their family members in practice by the UK Government.

The report focuses on three main topics:

  • Lack of clarity in communication with EUSS caseworker following a EUSS application
  • Lack of clarity in grant letter
  • Lack of clarity in refusal letters

Download the report here.

See appendix examples here.

Together with the AIRE Centre, Here for Good sent a joint letter to the Home Office highlighting issues relating to how their EUSS caseworkers handle the distinction between holding a passport and holding a nationality. Through our casework we are seeing a notable increase in requests for further evidence of their EEA nationality despite already having provided this. This is particularly prevalent in children’s cases where their first passport has been issued later in life.

Not only does this practice place an extra burden on the applicant within a strict 14 day deadline, these incorrect assessments also lead to unnecessary delays and outcomes. We are further concerned that the current approach may have a disproportionate impact on certain groups of applicants.

Read the full letter and our recommendations here – https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:ad2466e0-de16-4ad1-9ef9-b3a1d476ba22

Here for Good recently coordinated a joint letter from organisations funded by the Home Office to provide advice to vulnerable individuals under the EU Settlement Scheme (GFOs) and other EUSS advice providers in the UK, urging the Home Office to continue funding advice provision past 31st March 2023.

The EUSS legal team undertook significant research and submitted a number of pre-action letters to challenge the Home Office’s guidance, which states that in a wide range of circumstances a person’s application can be paused indefinitely where they are under police investigation or have a pending prosecution. This has a significant impact, particularly on vulnerable applicants who cannot, for example, access benefits in many circumstances, until they have received a decision on their application. There were also significant delays in criminal trials being scheduled during 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, further adding to the detriment a number of these clients were experiencing.

The majority of cases were approved after issuing our pre-action letters, which was a very positive outcome for these clients. We could not, however, find an applicant who had the correct facts to take the challenge further. This work was supported by ILPA’s strategic legal fund.

The legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Wilson Solicitors LLP, Counsel Samantha Knights KC (Matrix Chambers), Rowena Moffatt (Doughty Street Chambers) and Eva Doerr (Garden Court Chambers).

The EUSS legal team engaged in strategic work to challenge the Home Office’s practice of refusing to issue EEA family permits to applicants that had applied to join their family in the UK or had won an appeal on a previous refusal after the end of June 2021. This left many families in limbo. Amendments were made to the Rules and the Guidance to allow these family members to enter the UK despite the closure of the EEA family permit route.

The legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Wilson Solicitors LLP, Counsel Emma Daykin (One Pump Court) and Eva Doerr (Garden Court Chambers).

Client 1: I am very grateful to them and specially Mala Savjani .She has done a great job for me and today my brother is here with me. She is one of the best solicitor we have ever seen. We have no words to say. Thanks.

The Ukraine legal team has been working on a challenge to the UK Home Office’s decision making on applications from unaccompanied young people fleeing Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

A number of these applications were left undecided pending guidance which has now been issued. Applications from applicants under the age of 18 who are not being accompanied by a parent or responsible adult are subject to many additional checks which now fall on the local authority in which the child will be residing. While the additional checks in respect of safeguarding are welcomed, the delegation of decision making in respect of immigration matters to local authorities is concerning and falls outside of their remit. This work has been supported by ILPA’s Strategic Legal Fund.

The EUSS legal team engaged in strategic litigation work in relation to the Government’s guidance on coronavirus-related EU Settlement Scheme absence. New and updated Guidance was published which presented a more flexible approach and positively impacted many thousands of European citizens and their family members.

Our legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Bindmans LLP, Counsel Charlotte Kilroy KC, Hollie Higgins (both Blackstone Chambers) and Oliver Persey (Garden Court Chambers).

You can find updates on the case below:

THE CHALLENGE

The issue of absences is very important, as continuous residence in the UK is a key criterion for eligibility to the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”). In the original guidance, published on 15 December 2020, the Home Office set out that absences related to the coronavirus pandemic would be accepted only in limited circumstances and where they amounted to a single period of no more than 12 months.

Concerned about the impact this guidance would have on EEA nationals and their family members being able to secure their residence rights in the UK post-Brexit, and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Here for Good sought to challenge the guidance. Here for Good was particularly
concerned that the guidance unlawfully penalised people who were elderly or clinically vulnerable (or those whose relatives were vulnerable in this way), those who had sought conscientiously to comply with public health guidance by avoiding non-essential travel, and those caught up in local restrictions or travel disruption.

On 12 March 2021, an application for judicial review was lodged to challenge the guidance, seeking its withdrawal. On 6 May 2021, the guidance was withdrawn, and on 10 June 2021, the new guidance was published. The new guidance is an interim measure until Appendix EU can be amended accordingly.

THE NEW GUIDANCE

Under Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules, ‘continuous residence’ means a period of unbroken residence in the UK. Ordinarily, continuous residence will be broken if you are absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period, except where you have a single period of absence which does not exceed 12 months and it is for an important reason (such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting), or Crown Service, compulsory military service or time spent working in the UK marine area.

The new guidance acknowledges that there are circumstances, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where people may have been absent for longer than is permitted under Appendix EU. In these circumstances, a person’s continuity of residence will not be treated as having been broken by the excess absences. The new guidance identifies the following scenarios:

1. Where a person intended to be absent for less than 6 months, but exceeded this for up-to 12 months due to Covid-19 pandemic

Under the new guidance, where a person intended to be absent for no more than 6 months, but exceeded this because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will not be treated as exceeding the absences permitted under Appendix EU.

Examples of what Covid-19 related reasons could be are provided for in the guidance, but it is made clear that the list is non-exhaustive. The examples provided are very broad and include situations where individuals chose to leave or to remain outside of the UK because of the pandemic. Applicants to the EUSS will need to provide evidence in support of their applications and Home Office caseworkers will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

​2. Where a person has been absent for up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’

As with scenario one above, individuals who have been absent from the UK for up to 12 months will be able to rely on Covid-19 as an ‘important reason’. It will be necessary for the individual to show that the absence was related to Covid-19. The list of potential examples is the same as option one, and again includes situations where the individual chose to leave or remain overseas due to Covid-19.

3. Where a person has been absent for an ‘important reason’ but exceeded 12 months as they were prevented from or advised against returning to the UK earlier due to Covid-19

Ordinarily, absences in excess of 12 months will break a person’s continuity of residence in the UK. However, the new guidance confirms that absences in excess of 12 months can also be considered as an ‘important reason’ under Appendix EU where they are Covid-19 related.

It is important to note that the list of examples of when this concession can be relied upon are narrower than those available to individuals who have been absent for less than 12 months; it is limited to when the person was prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK earlier. Furthermore, even though the absence is permitted, any period over 12 months will not be counted towards their qualifying period of residence for settled status. Their residence will effectively be paused once their absence reaches the 12-month mark, and restart when they return to the UK.

For example, P has pre-settled status and 1 September 2022 marks his five-year anniversary of residence in the UK. P was absent from the UK from 1 January 2020 until 1 June 2021, for reasons fitting into this category. P’s residence will not be broken by his absence, even though it is longer than 12 months. However, P’s residence from 1 January 2021 until 1 June 2021 would not count towards the 5-year period of residence required to qualify for settled status. Practically, P could not apply for settled status by 1 September 2022 as anticipated. P would have to apply for a further grant of pre-settled status and make up the 6-month excess period of absence before qualifying for settled status.

As with the other scenarios above, examples of reasons are provided but the list is non-exhaustive and caseworkers will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

4. Where a person has already been absent for up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, but needs to be absent again, and one of the absences is for a Covid-19 related reason

This is allowed, and either period of absence can exceed 12 months in accordance with the scenario above. That said, only 6 months of the second period of absence will be considered as residence for the purposes of settled status applications. As in the scenario above, any excess period of absence will pause residence until the person returns to the UK. Such a person could also apply for a further grant of pre-settled status as above.

The guidance is intended to benefit a number of different categories of individuals, not just those who have already applied to the scheme. It also applies to:

  • Those whose pre-settled status has lapsed due to an absence of over 2 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and

  • Those who have not yet applied under EUSS but were resident in the UK by the end of the transition period (11pm 31 December 2020).

With all scenarios above, the applicant will be expected to submit evidence in support of their application to demonstrate the reason for their absences. The new guidance provides examples of evidence that could be provided, which includes (but is not limited to) confirmation of flight
cancellations, a doctor’s letter, a letter from employment/university etc.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Please note that for most applicants, the EUSS deadline was on 30 June 2021. That said the Home Office will accept late applications where there are ‘reasonable grounds’ for the delay.

For more information, see here.

It is also important to note that individual will continue being able to upgrade their pre-settled status into settled status once they are eligible. Further that, the new guidance can be relied upon for such applications if they had coronavirus-related absences from the UK.

Here for Good and the AIRE Centre jointly intervened in the Court of Appeal case Celik v The Secretary of State for Home Department (CA-2022-002008). See the Upper Tribunal judgement [2022] UKUT 00220) here.

The case concerns a non-EEA national (Mr Celik) and his application to remain in the UK relying on his relationship to a EEA national. The couple met online in December 2019, and in person the following month and started cohabitating in February 2020. They decided to get married and contacted the council to register this intention in October 2020. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time, they were not given a date to marry until 9 April 2021. 

Mr Celik made two applications for leave to remain in the UK under the EUSS, one in October 2020 as a durable partner of an EEA national which was refused in March 2021 and a second application as the spouse of an EEA national which was refused in June 2021. In both decisions, the reason for refusal was that the required evidence of a family relationship has not been provided as Mr Celik was not in possession of a valid family permit, registration certificate or residence card under the EEA Regulations as of 31 December 2020 as required by Appendix EU.

Read our EUSS Legal policy officer and caseworker Bianca Valperga’s blogs about the case to learn more about our arguments and the judgment which was passed down on the 31st July 2023.

Through our EUSS advice service, Here for Good regularly encounters examples of Home Office decision-making which illustrates an over-reliance on standardised templates and lack of transparency and clarity in their communication with applicants. This report provides an overview of the real life impact in clients’ life by a system operating with opaque decision- making and communication.

The report argues that the way that the EUSS is designed is currently at odds with its ability to operate in a ‘smooth, transparent and simple’ manner’ and ‘help applicants to prove their eligibility and avoid any errors or omissions in their applications’ as required under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The aim of the report is to encourage the examination of how rights and duties established by Article 18 of Withdrawal Agreement are being upheld for EU citizens and their family members in practice by the UK Government.

The report focuses on three main topics:

  • Lack of clarity in communication with EUSS caseworker following a EUSS application
  • Lack of clarity in grant letter
  • Lack of clarity in refusal letters

Download the report here.

See appendix examples here.

Together with the AIRE Centre, Here for Good sent a joint letter to the Home Office highlighting issues relating to how their EUSS caseworkers handle the distinction between holding a passport and holding a nationality. Through our casework we are seeing a notable increase in requests for further evidence of their EEA nationality despite already having provided this. This is particularly prevalent in children’s cases where their first passport has been issued later in life.

Not only does this practice place an extra burden on the applicant within a strict 14 day deadline, these incorrect assessments also lead to unnecessary delays and outcomes. We are further concerned that the current approach may have a disproportionate impact on certain groups of applicants.

Read the full letter and our recommendations here – https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:ad2466e0-de16-4ad1-9ef9-b3a1d476ba22

Here for Good recently coordinated a joint letter from organisations funded by the Home Office to provide advice to vulnerable individuals under the EU Settlement Scheme (GFOs) and other EUSS advice providers in the UK, urging the Home Office to continue funding advice provision past 31st March 2023.

The EUSS legal team undertook significant research and submitted a number of pre-action letters to challenge the Home Office’s guidance, which states that in a wide range of circumstances a person’s application can be paused indefinitely where they are under police investigation or have a pending prosecution. This has a significant impact, particularly on vulnerable applicants who cannot, for example, access benefits in many circumstances, until they have received a decision on their application. There were also significant delays in criminal trials being scheduled during 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, further adding to the detriment a number of these clients were experiencing.

The majority of cases were approved after issuing our pre-action letters, which was a very positive outcome for these clients. We could not, however, find an applicant who had the correct facts to take the challenge further. This work was supported by ILPA’s strategic legal fund.

The legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Wilson Solicitors LLP, Counsel Samantha Knights KC (Matrix Chambers), Rowena Moffatt (Doughty Street Chambers) and Eva Doerr (Garden Court Chambers).

The EUSS legal team engaged in strategic work to challenge the Home Office’s practice of refusing to issue EEA family permits to applicants that had applied to join their family in the UK or had won an appeal on a previous refusal after the end of June 2021. This left many families in limbo. Amendments were made to the Rules and the Guidance to allow these family members to enter the UK despite the closure of the EEA family permit route.

The legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Wilson Solicitors LLP, Counsel Emma Daykin (One Pump Court) and Eva Doerr (Garden Court Chambers).

Client 1: I am very grateful to them and specially Mala Savjani .She has done a great job for me and today my brother is here with me. She is one of the best solicitor we have ever seen. We have no words to say. Thanks.

The Ukraine legal team has been working on a challenge to the UK Home Office’s decision making on applications from unaccompanied young people fleeing Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

A number of these applications were left undecided pending guidance which has now been issued. Applications from applicants under the age of 18 who are not being accompanied by a parent or responsible adult are subject to many additional checks which now fall on the local authority in which the child will be residing. While the additional checks in respect of safeguarding are welcomed, the delegation of decision making in respect of immigration matters to local authorities is concerning and falls outside of their remit. This work has been supported by ILPA’s Strategic Legal Fund.

The EUSS legal team engaged in strategic litigation work in relation to the Government’s guidance on coronavirus-related EU Settlement Scheme absence. New and updated Guidance was published which presented a more flexible approach and positively impacted many thousands of European citizens and their family members.

Our legal team included Here for Good’s lawyers, the team at Bindmans LLP, Counsel Charlotte Kilroy KC, Hollie Higgins (both Blackstone Chambers) and Oliver Persey (Garden Court Chambers).

You can find updates on the case below:

THE CHALLENGE

The issue of absences is very important, as continuous residence in the UK is a key criterion for eligibility to the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”). In the original guidance, published on 15 December 2020, the Home Office set out that absences related to the coronavirus pandemic would be accepted only in limited circumstances and where they amounted to a single period of no more than 12 months.

Concerned about the impact this guidance would have on EEA nationals and their family members being able to secure their residence rights in the UK post-Brexit, and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Here for Good sought to challenge the guidance. Here for Good was particularly
concerned that the guidance unlawfully penalised people who were elderly or clinically vulnerable (or those whose relatives were vulnerable in this way), those who had sought conscientiously to comply with public health guidance by avoiding non-essential travel, and those caught up in local restrictions or travel disruption.

On 12 March 2021, an application for judicial review was lodged to challenge the guidance, seeking its withdrawal. On 6 May 2021, the guidance was withdrawn, and on 10 June 2021, the new guidance was published. The new guidance is an interim measure until Appendix EU can be amended accordingly.

THE NEW GUIDANCE

Under Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules, ‘continuous residence’ means a period of unbroken residence in the UK. Ordinarily, continuous residence will be broken if you are absent from the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period, except where you have a single period of absence which does not exceed 12 months and it is for an important reason (such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting), or Crown Service, compulsory military service or time spent working in the UK marine area.

The new guidance acknowledges that there are circumstances, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where people may have been absent for longer than is permitted under Appendix EU. In these circumstances, a person’s continuity of residence will not be treated as having been broken by the excess absences. The new guidance identifies the following scenarios:

1. Where a person intended to be absent for less than 6 months, but exceeded this for up-to 12 months due to Covid-19 pandemic

Under the new guidance, where a person intended to be absent for no more than 6 months, but exceeded this because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will not be treated as exceeding the absences permitted under Appendix EU.

Examples of what Covid-19 related reasons could be are provided for in the guidance, but it is made clear that the list is non-exhaustive. The examples provided are very broad and include situations where individuals chose to leave or to remain outside of the UK because of the pandemic. Applicants to the EUSS will need to provide evidence in support of their applications and Home Office caseworkers will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

​2. Where a person has been absent for up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’

As with scenario one above, individuals who have been absent from the UK for up to 12 months will be able to rely on Covid-19 as an ‘important reason’. It will be necessary for the individual to show that the absence was related to Covid-19. The list of potential examples is the same as option one, and again includes situations where the individual chose to leave or remain overseas due to Covid-19.

3. Where a person has been absent for an ‘important reason’ but exceeded 12 months as they were prevented from or advised against returning to the UK earlier due to Covid-19

Ordinarily, absences in excess of 12 months will break a person’s continuity of residence in the UK. However, the new guidance confirms that absences in excess of 12 months can also be considered as an ‘important reason’ under Appendix EU where they are Covid-19 related.

It is important to note that the list of examples of when this concession can be relied upon are narrower than those available to individuals who have been absent for less than 12 months; it is limited to when the person was prevented from, or advised against, returning to the UK earlier. Furthermore, even though the absence is permitted, any period over 12 months will not be counted towards their qualifying period of residence for settled status. Their residence will effectively be paused once their absence reaches the 12-month mark, and restart when they return to the UK.

For example, P has pre-settled status and 1 September 2022 marks his five-year anniversary of residence in the UK. P was absent from the UK from 1 January 2020 until 1 June 2021, for reasons fitting into this category. P’s residence will not be broken by his absence, even though it is longer than 12 months. However, P’s residence from 1 January 2021 until 1 June 2021 would not count towards the 5-year period of residence required to qualify for settled status. Practically, P could not apply for settled status by 1 September 2022 as anticipated. P would have to apply for a further grant of pre-settled status and make up the 6-month excess period of absence before qualifying for settled status.

As with the other scenarios above, examples of reasons are provided but the list is non-exhaustive and caseworkers will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

4. Where a person has already been absent for up to 12 months for an ‘important reason’, but needs to be absent again, and one of the absences is for a Covid-19 related reason

This is allowed, and either period of absence can exceed 12 months in accordance with the scenario above. That said, only 6 months of the second period of absence will be considered as residence for the purposes of settled status applications. As in the scenario above, any excess period of absence will pause residence until the person returns to the UK. Such a person could also apply for a further grant of pre-settled status as above.

The guidance is intended to benefit a number of different categories of individuals, not just those who have already applied to the scheme. It also applies to:

  • Those whose pre-settled status has lapsed due to an absence of over 2 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and

  • Those who have not yet applied under EUSS but were resident in the UK by the end of the transition period (11pm 31 December 2020).

With all scenarios above, the applicant will be expected to submit evidence in support of their application to demonstrate the reason for their absences. The new guidance provides examples of evidence that could be provided, which includes (but is not limited to) confirmation of flight
cancellations, a doctor’s letter, a letter from employment/university etc.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Please note that for most applicants, the EUSS deadline was on 30 June 2021. That said the Home Office will accept late applications where there are ‘reasonable grounds’ for the delay.

For more information, see here.

It is also important to note that individual will continue being able to upgrade their pre-settled status into settled status once they are eligible. Further that, the new guidance can be relied upon for such applications if they had coronavirus-related absences from the UK.