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Home Office Advert Banned for Misleading EU Citizens

Advertising watchdog banned Home Office advert that promoted its registration scheme for EU citizens seeking permanent residency in the UK after Brexit.

A UK government advertisement explaining how EU nationals can secure the right to stay in the country leaves the EU was ruled “misleading” and banned.

The radio advert said EU citizens living in the UK needed only a passport or ID card to qualify for settled status. In practice many applicants have been asked for proof of address or other documentation.

The Advertising Standards Authority banned the advert from appearing again because it “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”.

The watchdog said it had told the Home Office to make it “sufficiently clear” that some people applying to remain in the country would need to provide details in addition to their identity document.

“We completely disagree with ASA’s decision because the campaign was factual and complied with all necessary clearance processes for radio advertising,” a Home Office spokesperson said, reiterating that EU citizens needed only to prove their ID to secure their right to stay in the country.

The advert was part of a £3.75 million Home Office marketing campaign to explain how EU nationals can legally protect their rights to live and work in the UK after the proposed Brexit day of October 31. Under the rules of the scheme, all those who enter the country before this date have until December 2020 to apply for settled status.

However, this timeline was thrown into doubt last week after Downing Street said freedom of movement for EU nationals would end immediately on October 31 if the UK left the bloc without a deal.

While the Home Office maintains that the application deadline remains unchanged, fears that EU nationals would be unable to prove their status after the end of October prompted a surge in applications last week, during which the online application form crashed for a few hours and the phone app through which people can apply to secure their rights was taken offline temporarily for maintenance.

Published: August 27, 2019