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For my sins, I just made two 20-odd minute calls to the EU Settlement Scheme helpline (0300 123 7379) to ask how my DK husband (resident in UK for 20+years) could evidence eligibility for Settled Status after 31/10/19 if he's outside the UK after #CrashOutBrexit. 1/
The helpline advisers are very pleasant but clearly highly stressed and unequipped to deal with detailed questions which stray outside their "lines to take". The first adviser told me something completely different to the second. 2/
1st adviser said "there is no change to govt policy. Scheme is open until 31/12/20 to EU citizens who can evidence residence in the UK before December 2020." This differs from the Home Office line here: homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/08/19/med… which states: 3/
"This scheme covers all EU citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 October." I asked him whether my husband would need any evidence to distinguish him from EU citizens arriving after 31/10/19. He replied: "It won't matter. Scheme open to EU citizens until 2020." 4/
"Would you say that nothing has changed in relation to the settlement scheme since @patel4witham's announcement that FOM will end 31/10/19?" I asked him. "This is our line to take given to us from govt. I can't explain in relation to what Mrs Patel said." he replied. 5/
@patel4witham I asked again about how to distinguish between EU citizens arriving before and after 31/10/19 and he said "As long as an EU citizen is resident in the UK by December 2020 and applies for settlement scheme before then they are eligible for pre-settled or settled status." 6/
@patel4witham When I realised this advice about eligibility differed from the Home Office blog here homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/08/19/med… I called the helpline again and spoke to someone different, who had to put me on hold for 5 minutes to go and check their guidelines... 7/
@patel4witham She came back and reported, "Anyone who lives in the UK already but is abroad when FOM ends, because still eligible for settlement scheme they won’t be barred from reentering the UK. No change to govt policy" and went on to say, 8/
@patel4witham "Anyone eligible for the scheme is still able to apply until Dec 2020. Govt is looking into what to do with people who arrive after 31/10/19. I can only reiterate what it says on the blog. Eligibility for the scheme at moment is EU citizens already resident in the UK." 9/
@patel4witham I push her on the question of how my husband should prove his entitlements to work, benefits and services "in the same way as (he does) now" (Home Office blog wording). "No advice at this time, look at blog nearer the time, whole website will be updated" she replied. 10/
@patel4witham She goes on to say, "Only advice I can give is we're not entirely sure whether he will need some kind of document at the moment. Guidelines for EU citizens arriving after 31 Oct have not been set out. Our line to take is that he will not be barred from reentering the UK." 11/
@patel4witham This was a pretty stressful experience on both sides of the phone, by the way. These advisers sound pretty inexperienced and have clearly been told not to stray from their "lines to take" while getting tangled up when it comes to the finer details. 12/
@patel4witham The adviser ended the call with, "You're just going to have to keep checking the information on the blog for updates." Great. 13/
@patel4witham In summary, a stressful experience with conflicting information provided by inexperienced, under-briefed advisers who were unable to clarify how EU citizens already resident in UK can prove their residence rights compared to new EU arrivals after #CrashOutBrexit. Appalling. 14/
Plus, this shoddy, uncaring treatment by the @ukhomeoffice of EU citizens in the UK does absolutely no favours for @BritishInEurope who have been abandoned by the British government.
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