Experts have warned of a surge in demand for false identity documents as the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme passes. 

According to new research by SmartSearch, HR teams will need to be aware of the potential rise in false documents following the end of the EU Settlement Scheme deadline.

This is expected to occur particularly in industries that employ a high proportion of EU-nationals.

Legally, the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) gives citizens from the EU, EEA or Switzerland the legal right to continue living and working in the UK after 30th June 2021.

Staff who are still waiting to hear back about the results of their application will be issued with a Certificate of Application.

According to current Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, this will ensure that “no-one is unable to work due to their in-time application to the EU Settlement Scheme not having been decided before the deadline”.

However, John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch, still states that organised crime gangs will exploit an opportunity to provide sophisticated false ID documents such as passports and driving licences.

Speaking to HRreview, Mr. Dobson spoke of the negative impact this could have on sectors which have already been struggling due to the pandemic:

The Government may well be hoping that EU citizens who fail to achieve settled status will be on the next plane or ferry home, but that is just not going to be the case. And I would question that there is the resource to follow up on every failed application.

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.

As such, Mr. Dobson has urged businesses to move away from manually checking ID in order to prevent mistakes and leaving their firms susceptible to fraud.

He continued:

It’s more vital now than ever that businesses ditch outdated ID checks with hard documents and switch to an online digital solution that can provide a full report on an individual’s ID within a few seconds.

The technology is available today to search global databases instantly, with no need for hard copy documents, just a name, address and a date of birth.

The most recent figures for the scheme show that over 4.8 million people have received either settled or pre-settled status during the scheme.

However, it is yet unknown how many people still needed to apply prior to the deadline – leaving significant scope for error and fraud.