Hundreds of EU citizens in the UK have had their rights taken away, sometimes for years, because of out-of-date Home Office records of crimes they did not commit, it has been revealed.
Many European nationals who applied under the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme have had their cases paused because of the error – and without a clear immigration status they have been unable to get a job, rent or access benefits post-Brexit.
Roland Balewski, 46, originally from Poland, had to wait two years for a decision on his EUSS application, because police records falsely showed that an allegation of fraud from 1999 was still pending.
This drove Balewski, who has lived in Britain for over two decades, to suicidal ideation because he was terrified whilst not knowing the outcome of the application that he may be deported.
During his wait, he almost lost his job and found it difficult to rent because he could not prove his immigration status to employers and landlords, according to The Independent.
‘It’s likely thousands of applications have been paused unnecessarily’
His legal advisor Mala Savjani, solicitor for Here for Good, based at Wilsons Solicitors LLP, had to spend months trying to find the police department which could update his records.
“It is likely that hundreds, if not thousands, of applications will have been paused unnecessarily,” she said.
In another case supported by Kirklees Law Centre, a single mother had her application paused because of a prosecution from 2017 which has been dropped by police – and although the charity sent the Home Office a police letter confirming this, she is still waiting for a decision.
Meanwhile, she is unable to prove her immigration status and to obtain settlement for her children, because their status depend on their mother’s.
Over 25,000 EU nationals in Britain have had to wait for a decision on their EUSS application over the past three years on the basis that they had a prosecution pending, according to Coram Legal Centre.
‘It’s right that they have applications put on hold’, Home Office insists
A Home Office spokesperson said it is investigating the cases presented by The Independent but insisted it is “right” that those with pending prosecutions have their applications put on hold.
The spokesperson added that all applicants who are announced their applications have been paused because of pending prosecutions are advised to contact the police to get their records updated.
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson also said that people who are able to update their PNC records can contact local police with the required evidence.
But Kasia Makowska, an adviser at the Public Interest Law Centre, said that putting the responsibility on the applicant to speak to the police is “placing a heavy burden on an already vulnerable group, and ultimately penalising them if the police fail to update their records.”
“We are concerned that thousands of people may have been impacted,” she said.