3.5 million EU citizens secure right to remain in UK
Two million EU citizens residing in the UK have been given settled status under the government’s settled status scheme, allowing them to remain in the country permanently after the post-Brexit transition period lapses in December.
An additional 1.5 million more people have been given pre-settled status having been in the UK for under five years. They will be able to apply for permanent residency once they have been in the country for five years.
Any individuals with settled or pre-settled status can work, study, and receive healthcare and benefits.
Meanwhile, 4,600 individuals saw their applications refused, 36,500 withdrew applications and a further 34,900 applications were deemed ineligible.
The deadline for EU citizens to apply for the settlement scheme is June 30, 2021, but any who do not apply by the deadline will not be deported automatically.
Yet, any individuals granted settled status do not currently receive any physical documentation as proof. Successful applicants can print off a digital confirmation letter, but this cannot be used as formal evidence.
The Liberal Democrats have been vocal in calls for all EU citizens to be automatically given the right to remain in the UK permanently, warning that doing otherwise would risk a “new Windrush-style scandal” which could see people controversially deported.
The Lib Dems also want EU citizens who are given the right to remain a physical document proving their status, to avoid experiencing similar issues to those faced by Commonwealth citizens during the Windrush scandal.
The party’s home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine said: “Without physical proof of their rights, EU citizens will be at the mercy of the Conservatives' hostile environment. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.”
The Home Office has talked down the idea of automatically granting EU citizens the right to remain, warning it could lead to confusion and difficulties for individuals who need to prove their status in future.
The Home Office also dismissed the idea of providing physical documentation to successful applicants, warning that in the long-term such documents can expire, become invalid, or be lost, stolen, or tampered with.