Suella Braverman bows to EU pressure in post-Brexit legal fight

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Suella Braverman has decided not to appeal against a High Court judgement regarding the rights of citizens with pre-settled status under a major EU scheme. About 2.1 million EU citizens living in Britain have secured their post-Brexit right to stay beyond their visa expiry date after months of legal fight against the Home Office. Under former rules set by the Home Office, Europeans who had lived in the UK for less than 5 years were at risk of deportation or detention if they overstayed their post-Brexit immigration visa. The rule has now been lifted after months of legal pressure.

The legal case was brought by the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA), a body set up to guarantee and protect EU citizens’ rights after Brexit.

The IMA has struck down the Home Office’s decision that EU citizens with a temporary immigration status – known as pre-settled status – must submit a new application before a 5-year deadline to keep their rights under the Brexit Agreement.

At the end of the transition towards Brexit in 2020, all EU citizens were required to apply either for the pre-settled status or the settled status, depending on how long they had stayed in Britain.

Those who had stayed for fewer than five years had to apply for “pre-settled status” – then apply again for “settled status” once they hit the five-year mark. According to Home Office rules, EU citizens who did not apply on time for the settled status would be considered “illegal overstayers” and at risk of being deported or incarcerated.

The IMA deemed that it was “unlawful” for EU citizens to lose their rights if they failed to apply for settled status before the expiry of their pre-settled status.

In December, the High Court of England and Wales ruled that the Home Office had violated the law by stripping EU citizens of their right to reside in the UK after Brexit if they fail to submit two applications.

The Home Office, which initially insisted it would appeal the decision, has backed down – handing UK-based EU citizens a victory.

Chief Executive of the IMA, Dr Kathryn Chamberlain, said: “We are pleased that the Home Office has taken the decision not to proceed with the appeal, which we hope will ensure clarity for more than two million citizens in advance of the expiry of their pre-settled status.

“We have already begun discussing with the Home Office how the IMA will be engaged as part of the Home Office’s work to make the necessary changes to the EUSS. We hope that being part of that process will ensure the IMA can monitor those changes as they are developed, and also ensure that they are sufficiently promoted amongst citizens.”

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The IMA previously said the five-year deadline set by the Home Office was illegal under the Brexit deal, contending that EU citizens’ rights “do not expire” unless they are lost or withdrawn for reasons laid out in the Brexit agreement.

According to Home Office official data, there were approximately 2.1 million EU citizens with pre-settled status.

The Government will need to “implement changes” to the policy, according to the3million, an organisation that works to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

Its co-CEO Monique Hawkins said the decision “has averted a ticking time bomb”. In a previous statement, the IMA stated it would communicate with the Home Office about the resolution of the “landmark” case that it has initiated.

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