Regulator bans 'misleading' EU settled status ad

Misleading, unclear UK Home Office immigration status advert banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Map of Europe and UK illustrated using visa stamps
A British government radio advertisement publicising the Settled Status scheme for the three million-plus EU nationals living in the UK has been outlawed as misleading by the nation's broadcasting regulator.Banning the commercial, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it failed to make it clear that some applicants would need to produce more documentation than just as a passport or ID card to be successful.The advert, first aired in the spring, said: "If you're an EU citizen living in the UK, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme is fully open and you have plenty of time to apply. It is free and all you need is your passport or ID card and to complete an online form."

Why is the Home Office EU Settled Status scheme advert misleading?

But in its ruling this week, the ASA said that more than a quarter of EU adults applying under the scheme had had to provide additional documentation to prove they had been living in the UK for at least five years.While the ASA said it appreciated the commercial referred to the minimum documents required to complete the initial application form, it considered listeners would infer that was all that would be required to complete the entire process."Listeners would likely understand that an official application process of this nature would always require some applicants to provide further information in exceptional cases," said the ruling."However, we understood that in 27% of decided adult cases, applicants had been asked to provide documents as evidence of residence. Furthermore, some applicants were also asked for other documents, such as evidence of a family relationship."While we acknowledged that applicants were not required specifically to submit 'proof of address’'(as referenced by the complainant), some were required to submit further documents beyond those stated in the ad.

"We considered that the actual proportion who were asked to submit further documents was likely to go beyond what the audience was likely to understand from the claim. In that context, we considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that, in some cases, applicants would need to supply documents beyond their passport or ID card."
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Consequently, the ASA ruled the advert to be misleading and could not be broadcast again in its original form and that the Home Office must ensure it made it clear that some applicants would need to provide additional documents beyond a passport or ID card.A Home Office spokesman flatly rejected the ASA ruling. "We completely disagree with ASA’s decision. The campaign was factual and complied with all necessary clearance processes for radio advertising," he said."The campaign has had a positive impact and encouraged more than one million successful applications so far. The scheme is free, straightforward, and EU citizens and their family members have plenty of time to apply. All they need to apply is their passport or ID card and to complete an online form.”

Home Office rejects celebrity chef's application for settled status

Meanwhile, celebrity chef and Polish national Damian Wawrzyniak, who has lived in the UK for almost 15 years, has revealed he has been rejected for full settled status by the Home Office.Mr Wawrzyniak, who has twice cooked for members of the royal family, was a head chef during the 2012 Olympics in London and has appeared on BBC cooking programmes, has only been granted pre-settled status despite supplying employment and tax documentation to the Home Office.Pre-settled status means he will have to live continuously in the UK for the next five years to qualify for full settled status.Mr Wawrzyniak, who owns a restaurant near Peterborough, told his 17,000 Twitter followers, "Have lived in the UK for 15 years. Always employed, without gaps, now running own restaurant. Paid thousands of pounds in taxes. Employing several people in our restaurant, directly and indirectly. Not good enough to get settled status. This is ridiculous."Following publicity of the case, the chef has now been contacted by the deputy chief of European casework at the Home Office and been told that his case is being reassessed.

For more news, visit our Brexit and United Kingdom sections.

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