It’s not easy to apply for settled status | Letters

It irritates me when it seems to be implied that the 2.6 million EU citizens who have not yet applied for settled status in the UK are simply not “getting on with the job” in what is claimed will prove an easy process (Alarm as EU citizens denied settled status, 31 August) .

My 84-year-old wife (of 43 years) is a Dutch national (the Dutch, until recently, didn’t allow dual nationality under any circumstances). She has lived in the UK for 59 years, spent all her working life here and has raised four British children.

She now has a variety of medical problems including cancer, mobility problems and macular degeneration (a combination so severe that she couldn’t travel to her sister’s funeral in Rotterdam). At the height of these problems, we discovered that her passport had lapsed (they are only valid for three years).

This was around the time that the government app came online. The app requires a pdf of a valid biometric passport (they rejected the recently lapsed version). The only way for us to get a replacement passport is for my wife to personally travel to a Netherlands embassy for an appointment in either London or Edinburgh (both very remote from our south Wales home). The embassy can only issue ID cards (non-biometric) by post and these are not acceptable to the app.

I suspect that my wife’s situation is far from unique but little consideration has been focused on retired, elderly long-term residents.
Emeritus Professor Paul F Brain
Loughor, Swansea

Here’s our example of a system that is neither simple, free, nor fair. My wife is German, we married here in 1983, and she worked many years as a qualified state school teacher. After a period in British schools overseas we returned, more than five years ago.

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My wife’s application for permanent residence last year failed – because she did not have five years of private health insurance (a little-known rule). Her application this year for “settled status” has met frequent barriers.

Simple? No. It took several long phone calls, a two-week wait and four visits to a local registry to get her passport identity verified. In spite of this, she was required to get a further manual paper form sent from the registry (who had never heard of it) to the Home Office.

The online system permits only one postcode. Because we moved house within the last five years, she was then offered only pre-settled status. We challenged it, but were then asked for six and a half, not five, years’ evidence, because, we were told, the dates on the system, launched as a pilot more than a year ago, had not been updated. We await the result.

Free? No. Verifying passport identity cost £14 because she has an iPhone not an Android.

Fair? After 36 years, most of them here, and this catalogue of nonsense, what do you think?
Name and address supplied

There are more challenges for EU nationals trying to claim settled status, in addition to those you report on.

Without an NI number or evidence of an address, it’s difficult to prove they have lived here for the required five years

Nannies and au pairs get “pocket money”, not pay, so are not required to have an NI number.

Many people rent from rogue landlords, illegally subletting properties. They make the rent all inclusive, to avoid the danger of being found out if a tenant were to register for council tax or a utility bill. So, they often find it hard to prove residence.

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EU nationals are the bedrock of many core services and we need to make them feel welcomed – and settled.
Bob Hughes
Willoughby, Warwickshire

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