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More than half of calls to EU Settlement Scheme helpline unanswered


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People having problems with their application to the EU Settlement Scheme or issues proving their status have one main point of contact with the Home Office: the EUSS helpline. The Home Office has now revealed that this valuable resource has been failing people, with only 44% of calls getting through to a caseworker between November 2020 and November 2021.

In this time frame, more than 1,400,000 calls were placed, showing the widespread need for information and guidance from the government. Of those, around 650,000 were successfully connected, data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows.

Callers often receive the following message, after which their call is disconnected:

Thank you for calling the resolution centre. We are experiencing high demand for our services and currently have no more space in our call queue… Your call will now be disconnected.

The Home Office notes that the average waiting time has been under 15 minutes since 30 June 2021, the main application deadline to the EU Settlement Scheme. This metric is not very meaningful given that it disregards the over 50% of calls which aren’t allowed to join the queue.

At the3million, the EU citizens’ group, we have seen time and time again reports of people being unable to fix problems because their calls don’t get through. This has a significant impact on their mental health, ability to work, rent and travel.

I was told to provide evidence of the years 2013-2021, but I am not sure what and how much exactly they require. So I have been trying to ring the helpline which so far has always ended in the call being terminated. I sleep even worse than usual, some nights not at all.

There are currently 320,000 applications in the Settlement Scheme backlog, waiting for a decision. Although the government has provided reassurances that people will have their rights protected while waiting for a decision, the day-to-day reality is confusion, both for EU citizens themselves and those checking immigration status, such as employers, landlords, benefits officials and border officers. For those in the backlog, access to a reliable helpline service is crucial.

The issue also affects people who have secured their pre-settled or settled status but are having problems with the online system to “view and prove” their immigration status.

I’ve updated my passport and tried to link my new passport to my Settled Status. In this period, I’ve had no communication. I’ve tried to phone the Home Office repeatedly to ask when it will be updated, but can’t get through. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait. It could be days, weeks or months. I’m frustrated because there’s no way to chase this up, as I can’t get through to the Home Office on the phone. I can’t go visit my mum abroad, as I won’t be able to return to the UK if I travel.

I need to share my code with a potential employer but I can’t log in my account. This has been an ongoing issue. The website says I am already logged in but I am not. The helpline says they are busy and there is no way I can get through, they are just ending my call and asking me to call another time.

The government has acknowledged that “the move away from physical documents to an online status represents a change which individuals and service providers may take time to adjust to”. This makes it even more important to have access to support from the Home Office to resolve any issues.

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Andreea Dumitrache

Andreea Dumitrache is Communications Manager at the3million, the leading grassroots organisation representing EU citizens in the UK, formed in 2016 after the Brexit referendum. Its work ranges from monitoring the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, advocating for the integration of EU citizens through a pathway to citizenship, informing people of their rights, and giving EU citizens a voice in British society to change the narrative on migration.