A woman with British children who has been living in the UK for five years has been refused EU settled status and is still awaiting a decision, months after submitting her application.
Laura Randone, 39, from Latvia, applied for the post-Brexit immigration scheme in May 2021 in order to be allowed to remain in Britain, but was rejected in August.
The Home Office defended its decision by saying the Worcestershire woman had not sent them “sufficient evidence” to prove she has been in the UK for the past five years.
Decision under review
The stay-at-home mum has three young children, two of whom have British citizenship, and had to apply for a decision review which charges £80.
The review process was initially meant to take up to 28 days, but the government has recently increased the timeframe to three months because of “unprecedented levels of applications”.
Despite government guidance saying applicants would be contacted if a decision is not made within three months, Randone has been waiting for over four months without hearing back.
The Home Office also states that applicants’ rights are protected during the review process, but Randone is worried she will not be able to visit her sick mother in Latvia because of an interaction she had with a border official.
‘They will not let you back in’
She told The Independent: “I received the rejection when I was in Latvia, and on return to the UK I was stopped at the border. The border agent said he could see that I had a review pending, but he said: ‘If you leave again, I’m fairly certain they will not let you back in’.
“It’s very stressful. Christmas is the time when it’s important to see your family. My mum is very unwell. She can’t walk properly. She needs help around her house. We need to stockpile wood so she can heat it.”
She added the whole process made her anxious about her family’s future post-Brexit: “Are they going to break our family apart? My kids have no other home. It makes me feel very sad because I treat this country as a home. I have a household here, my kids are British, English is their first language. I feel homeless.”
There are currently 194,000 people who have been refused settled status since the scheme started in the UK in the spring of 2019, and many are going through the review process.
Meanwhile, 348,100 are still waiting for a decision on their settlement scheme application.
Home Office response
Although the official deadline was 31 June, the Home Office is also considering late applications.
The Home Office said: “There have already been more than 5.1 million grants of status under the hugely successful EU settlement scheme, which we developed to ensure our EU friends and neighbours could secure the status they need to stay here.
“EU citizens and their family members who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, and who have a pending application to the EUSS, will continue to be able to travel in and out of the UK whilst their application remains pending.
“An application continues to be treated as pending throughout any administrative review or appeals process.”
Related: Outrage after Home Office sends EU Settled Status letters to British citizens