In the drive to go digital across all boards, the Home Office has introduced a new set of immigration guidelines following the UK’s exit from the EU or Brexit. An online service has been put in place, which will be in effect from 30th June 2021 for EU, Swiss, and EEA citizens to view and prove their immigration status. And these guidelines have brought along a scare and a situation of unrest for EU citizens.
The ‘digital-only status’ for EU citizens implies that landlords, public service providers, and employers can no longer accept any physical proof- passports and biometric ID cards of EU nationals as evidence of their immigration status or work permit.
According to the Home Office and reports issued by the UK government, the digital-only uk residence permits enable better convenience and security for the holders, EU citizens in this case.
However, numerous expert analysts, reports, and campaigners have alluded at warnings of a crisis that this shift can incur. This translates into a tangible risk of misuse and/or abuse, owing to the volatility of only a server storing the proof of the working and living of millions of EU citizens in the UK.
The Windrush Scandal
The Home Office practices and the British immigration policy were under the radar due to the infamous 2018 Windrush Scandal.
Many individuals have been detained, harassed with deportation, and stripped of their human rights. Many jobs were lost and several civilian lives were irrevocably changed. The causative agent was the ‘irrational’ demand for multiple document evidence of residency, along with ignorance.
Read EEA Family Permit Supporting Documents
To forbid such a tragedy in the future, the UK has resorted to the digital-only status for the non-UK passport holders. However, several issues still pertain. The latent inconsistencies and inaccuracy of the records, mainstream procedural shortcomings, and the lack of institutional sensitivity towards singular circumstances pose a challenge.
This article from The SmartMove2UK will take you through the disadvantages that the implementation of the ‘digital-only status’ policy in the UK can lead to.
The Risk of Discrimination Intensifies More Than Ever
The transition from paper-based documentation to the online setting can lead to potential discrimination against the EU citizens in the UK now.
An entire set of nine distinct steps are to be followed by the prospect landlords and employers to check the residence/work permit of the seeker. Further, a report suggests that electronic citizen-on-citizen checks will result in applicants with a British passport or physical residency permit being favored as tenants and employees.
Digital proofs tend to make the verification process daunting and hostile. In most cases, homeowners did not revert to potential tenant proposals that involved the use of an electronic-checking tool.
Besides, many employers do not wish to spend time on verifying the work permit of the applicants. This will result in loss of opportunities on several occasions. The Home Affairs Select Committee has also raised concerns on similar grounds.
Security is Still Endangered
The UK government made claims that the ‘digital-only status’ offers security from potential thefts, forgery, and loss of physical documents.
The reports against the transition, however, suggest that there are a number of forms by which the power over the digital identity of another might be abused. The SmartMove2UK asserts that email addresses and phone numbers are prone to online exploitations such as seizing the digital access control. So, human traffickers or frauds can take undue advantage of such a system until a comprehensive monitoring framework comes into being.
So, the security aspect of the digital immigration status is still quite a genuine concern for the non-UK passport holders.
Exclusion of Digitally Unsound Population
Plenty of people will benefit from this digital setting, but the case is not the same for everybody.
For employers or landlords with low-digital skills, the electronic accessibility of the right-to-work permit and citizen-on-citizen status check will become chaotic and burdensome. There is an apparent possibility that when it comes to searching for work and places to rent, this community would be at a critical disadvantage.
The vulnerability of the EU citizens with the digital immigration status will increase manifolds and thus, increase the hostility of the environment and enhance the sense of alienation.
To combat such situations, each immigrant must seek the consultation of professional UK Immigration specialists. We, at The SmartMove2UK, strive to provide our clients with expert counsel and support.
What measures can safeguard the interests of the EU citizens?
The non-UK passport holders are about to enter deep waters with the post-Brexit UK transition. Several reforms are imminent and will be implemented within the next few years with full force.
Plenty of recommendations have been suggested by the opposing agencies. The digital immigration status, for example, must be supported by physical documentation proof for special case scenarios. This can serve as a fallback system and also offer a sense of empowerment and reliability.
Read Will Covid-19 cause EU Settled Status scheme to extend?
A large number of risks are inherent with the transition to the digital residence and work permit for the EU nationals. Landlords, employers and border agencies can continue to require tangible proof of residency. That can and will, dramatically leave millions of individuals cut off from their basic rights, such as access to jobs, healthcare and housing. But the extent of harm that the ‘digital-only’ status will inflict can only be fully realized over time.
At The SmartMove2UK, our UK immigration solicitors have helped numerous non-EEA family members of EU nationals to apply for an EEA Family Permit to the UK
Reach out to us if you are seeking legal help from UK visa consultants in relation to the UK EEA Family Permit and want to know more about Settlement Scheme for EU Nationals.
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