Brexit panic as EU citizens scramble for UK status with TEN days to go– thousands at risk
Nicola Sturgeon sends message to EU citizens in Scotland
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The current deadline is June 30 but with less than two weeks to go, the latest figures show 320,000 EU citizens are waiting for their application to be confirmed by the Home Office. Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will afford EU citizens a settled legal status to carry on living and working in the UK now the Brexit transition period and freedom of movement has ended.
But a report from UK in a Changing Europe, titled Brexit and Beyond, claimed if applicants to the scheme “cannot demonstrate they have a ‘right to reside’, they will “lose their rights immediately” regardless if they have a valid application.
These rights include the right to work, rent and access health care on 1st July.
The report added: “This is likely to impact most severely upon vulnerable applicants with complicated cases.
“Given delays in processing applications, this difference in treatment could become quite significant.”
Academics also warn in the report there could be hundreds of thousands of people who, who are entitled to apply, will find themselves without a legal immigration status on 1 July 2021.
Catherine Barnard, deputy director of UK in a Changing Europe, said: “On one level, the EU settled status is a massive success in terms of providing a quick and efficient system, which has reached huge numbers of people.
“But it is about to enter a phase that will require sensitive management where the government will need to show pragmatism and flexibility in dealing with difficult cases.”
Remainer MPs have meanwhile urged the UK government to automatically grant post-Brexit residence status to prevent “a cliff-edge for EU nationals.”
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Anne Mclaughlin MP, SNP immigration spokesperson warned EU citizens could be stripped of their rights “overnight” if their status is not granted automatically.
The Glasgow North East MP urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “take his head out of the sand” and the “huge risks that it poses to the EU nationals.”
She added: “The fundamental concern is access for key sectors to the labour market.
“Industries such as hospitality and farming are already struggling to recruit as a result of Brexit – this could be compounded if people can’t prove their right to work.
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“Employers will understandably be nervous about keeping someone on or employing someone new if they don’t have evidence of their right to work here and so many sectors could find themselves in a much worse position come July.”
After July 1, the UK Government said landlords and employers could face fines if they rent to or employ people without the correct status.
Landlords will be required to perform follow-up checks on tenants with pre-settled status and could be fined up to £3,000 for breaking the law and employers can be fined up to £15,000.
The latest figures show 5.4 million applications have been made to the scheme, with more than 4.9 million grants of status.
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There were 4.88 million applications from England, 268,500 from Scotland, 89,800 from Wales and 88,600 from Northern Ireland.
Earlier this month, the Home Office launched an information campaign urging EU citizens living in the UK to apply for its settlement scheme as soon as possible.
Immigration Minister Kevin Foster however stressed those who have applied would have their rights protected.
He added: “We have already confirmed that someone who has applied to the EU settlement scheme by the 30 June deadline, but has not had a decision by then, will have their rights protected until their application is decided.”
A spokeswoman for the Home Office, added: “The EU Settlement Scheme has been open now for more than two years and we are pleased we have already surpassed 5.4 million applications.
“We have published guidance for grounds for making a late application and we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach when considering these.
“We have a dedicated team of more than 1,500 people working to process applications and we have also provided £22 million to organisations that support vulnerable people.”
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