The Church in England and Wales is rallying to help Europeans living in the UK with regard to the procedures necessary to continue living legally in the country.
It comes after the British government announced details of its new controversial points-based immigration plan which will come into force on 1 January.
By 30 June 2021, EU citizens, and those from Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein residing in Great Britain will have to register for a special platform set up by British authorities, known as the Settlement Scheme.
It’s estimated that a quarter of those eligible have not yet applied.
If they do not comply with the new procedure within the deadline, they will lose their right to reside, work and access services in the country.
For this reason, the Bishops of England and Wales are asking the faithful to inform their European friends and relatives about the Settlement Scheme.
Monsignor Paul McAleenan, President of the Office for Migration Policy of the Bishops’ Conference (CBCEW), says that they are especially concerned for older and vulnerable people who may have difficulty filling in the online form, or are not fully informed of the risks if they fail submit the application in time.
In a letter, Mons McAleenan also invites parishes to publish in their newsletters all the necessary information on the procedures to be followed and the internet addresses to turn to for help.
The new points system illustrated this week by the Home Secretary Priti Patel provides for a crackdown on immigrants with low qualifications and limited knowledge of English.
In practice, the visa will only be granted to foreign applicants with a minimum of 70 points, awarded only to those who have job offers with annual salaries of over £25,000, high educational qualifications, such as a PhD.