Identity fraud warning over EU Settlement Scheme

Employers have been warned about organised crime gangs providing false documents to EU workers.


They have been told they need to be wary of false identity documents following the deadline for EU workers to apply for settled status ending.

EU citizens who missed the 1 July application deadline to carry on living in the UK via the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme, won’t lose their right to work in the UK instantly.

The scheme applies to people from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, where they and their family might be able to apply to continue living in the UK. The deadline for most people to apply to the scheme was 30 June 2021.

The UK Government said that people who have not had their applications processed yet will have their rights protected while they are waiting for a decision.

John Dobson, CEO at ID verification specialist SmartSearch, advised employers to have a quick and secure method of verifying the identity of new employees.

Mr Dobson said the strict deadline has posed a risk that organised crime gangs will exploit an opportunity to provide sophisticated false ID documents such as passports and driving licences.

He said: “What we are likely to see is a surge in false ID documents being circulated and organised crime taking full advantage of the situation.

“Many of the sectors which traditionally rely on EU citizens as part of its workforce, such as construction, hospitality and retail, have of course been hardest hit by the pandemic. This could prove to be a further challenge to the stability of their business.”

The Government has said it will extend the deadline by 28 days in some cases where there are reasonable grounds. This is due to the estimated 400,000 applications that still need to be processed, from more than five million people who have so far applied.

Just over half the applicants (52 per cent) have been granted settled status, meaning they have indefinite leave to remain living and working in Britain. Another 43 per cent have pre-settled status, where permission to stay is limited to five years.

According to the Home Office, only two per cent of applications have been refused.

Employing someone who is not eligible to work in the UK can however lead to your company being fined – potentially up to £20,000.

According to HM Revenue & Customs, if you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you can still apply if you or a family member were living in the UK by 31 December 2020. You must also either:

· meet one of the criteria for a later deadline to apply

· have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by 30 June 2021

You may be able to stay in the UK without applying – for example, if you’re an Irish citizen, or you already have indefinite leave to enter or remain.

For help and advice on matters relating to legal employment, contact Joanna Alexiou on joanna.alexiou@mackrell.com or at 0207 240 0521

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Joanna Alexiou

Joanna Alexiou

Associate Solicitor at Mackrell.Solicitors
Joanna joined the firm’s Employment Law team in February 2020 having previously worked at another prominent firm of solicitors in the heart of London. Joanna has worked with clients from the finance, technology, arts and culture, marketing, charity and food and drink sectors.