There have been a number of reports in various local press recently relating to scams targeting EU citizens applying to the Home Office EU Settlement Scheme. We don’t want to cause alarm but felt it is important to offer some sensible advice to keep citizens safe from scammers.
Scammers may be using the new scheme to extract personal data or are simply not qualified or regulated to provide assistance on a commercial or non-commercial basis.
It is now a requirement for all EU citizens wishing to live and work in the UK to register as settled under the scheme. The Government have agreed that EU citizens who are resident in the UK before we leave the European Union (scheduled for 31st October), have until December 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status. The process for EU citizens arriving after the 31st October has yet to be decided.
The application process itself has three simple checks that include, proof of identify, proof of residence in the UK and a criminality check. It is designed so that most people should be able to complete their own application and those of their dependents. This is normally carried out online.
However some people may wish to receive help completing the form because they may not have digital access or through reasons of health or vulnerability, are not able to complete the form without assistance.
So what do you need to know if you are seeking help?
First of all anyone collecting personal information is governed by strict data protection laws that have recently been strengthened by the EU. These are called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). More information on GDPR is available in the UK from the Information Commissioners Office.
Secondly the provision of immigration advice is also regulated in the UK and anyone providing professional help to complete EUSS applications should hold accreditation with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
Therefore EU citizens should only seek help from recognised sources of help. All Citizens Advice offices hold OISC Level 1 accreditation and can help with standard applications. In Beeston (Nottinghamshire) the Local Citizens Advice run a Walk-in Centre on behalf of Europe Direct East Midlands (North).
Digital assistance is available for those that require help and are vulnerable. This takes the form of online, telephone support and face to face support. There are a number of agencies contracted by the Home Office to assist vulnerable EU citizens in person with their applications to the EUSS. These include some Citizens Advice services, law centres and other immigration advice centres. The Home Office have published a list of contracted organisations along with details of the various forms of assistance.
If in doubt call the Europe Direct East Midlands (North) helpline first on 01773 532291.