Home Office tells EU settlement applicants to expect delays
The Home Office has announced that citizens from the European Union who are applying to settle in the UK permanently following Brexit may face delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the scheme opened in March last year, over three million EU citizens have been granted settled status which allows them to live and work in the UK.
It is believed that an additional 600,000 people will register prior to the deadline of June 2021.
The Home Office notes that they are currently facing a “challenging time” and as such, applications are expected to take “longer than usual”.
In a blog post, the department said that they were no longer answering phone calls from applicants, and that receipt of all paperwork by applicants had been suspended.
Centres used to validate paperwork have also been closed as a result of the pandemic.
The decision to reduce services offered at the present time came as a result of government guidance which advised those who can work at home to do so.
They continued that their decision is under “constant review” and that services would be reinstating “in line with public health guidance”.
Individuals are still able to apply online, using the government approved app in order to authenticate identity documents.
The department concluded that: “where a person eligible for leave under the EU settlement scheme has reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.”
Citizens of both the EU and EEA must apply to be able to remain in the UK permanently, following the country’s departure from the bloc in January.