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Celebrating Pro Bono Week: New Europeans – ‘Brexit & You’ Events
| Zahira Patel

Celebrating Pro Bono Week: New Europeans – ‘Brexit & You’ Events

This post is part of a series celebrating Pro Bono Week 2019  in the UK, which runs from 4 to 8 November this year, providing an opportunity to encourage, recognise and celebrate the work of lawyers who volunteer their services for free to those who would not otherwise afford legal advice.

We have a long and proud tradition of engaging in community and pro bono work across the globe; giving back is not just a side note for us, it is one of our core values. We recognise we are fortunate to have opportunities and that we have a duty to share our talent and skills to help others find theirs. To celebrate the contribution of our staff and charity partners in furthering this goal and encourage others to participate, this Pro Bono Week we are highlighting our pro bono initiatives in this Fragomen Gives Back blog series.

For many European nationals and their family members living in the UK, the Brexit referendum in 2016 has caused considerable uncertainty and confusion. Given the pace of political developments, European citizens have posed several questions relating to their right to remain in the UK after Brexit, how to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme and whether they can be joined by their family members, among others.

New Europeans has responded to this demand by arranging a comprehensive series of “Brexit & You” information sessions for various European communities in the UK, providing crucial information to large numbers of people who would otherwise be unable to access it. I have been fortunate enough to support two of these sessions this year, for London’s Bulgarian and Greek communities, where I discussed and provided feedback on Brexit, the EU Settlement Scheme and related immigration queries.

The demand for this information was strong. I spent much of the time reassuring attendees of their right to remain in the UK after Brexit, as well as helping them to understand how to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, the difference between Pre-Settled and Settled Status, whether to apply for Permanent Residence, and the implications for British nationality. The response and gratitude have been tremendous and it has been hugely rewarding to be able to provide a degree of clarity for people and helping ease some of their concerns.

Below are some of the most common queries raised at both events (you can find our answers to these commonly asked questions here)

  • Do I need to apply for status if I already have Indefinite Leave to Remain?
  • Do I need to apply for status if I hold British citizenship?
  • How do I apply and when do I need to apply by?
  • What is the difference between pre-settled and settled status?
  • Will I be able to bring my family with me?
 
Going forward

I would like to see information about the EU Settlement Scheme reach as many people as possible. Unless the government moves to a declaratory system of conferring status, there is a risk that EU nationals who either do not know they have to apply or have not applied by the deadline (31 December 2020 if there is no deal, or 30 June 2021 if there is a deal) will become illegal migrants in the UK, even if they have been living here legally for many years.

To avoid issues like those faced by the Windrush generation, we encourage all those who attended the event, have received settled or pre-settled status, advise clients through the process or otherwise have knowledge of the process to share the details far and wide. Further details can be found here on our Brexit site.

Read the other blog highlighting our recent involvement with Mayor of London ‘We Are All Europeans’ Event here