Archives – EU citizens in Great Britain: An important Brexit deadline ends at the end of June. Photo: Yui Mok / PA Wire / dpa
“There are a number of problems that can occur,” said migration researcher Jonathan Portes of the German news agency DPA before an important deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union at the end of June. In the worst case, citizens who did not take care of their right of residence in time can be forced to leave the country.
The so-called EU Settlement Program aims to guarantee EU citizens living in Great Britain largely the same rights they had before Brexit – such as the right to live and work in the country, as well as access to the health system and social services. There are also similar programs for British people living in EU countries, many of which, as in the UK, the application deadline is the end of June.
After this period is over, it will become clear how well the new systems actually work. According to experts, the problem may be that EU citizens in Great Britain can only prove their right of residence in digital form in a relatively complicated way. “The government has made it clear that there will be no physical evidence,” said Catherine Barnard of the British think tank a changing Europe. “There is no document that you can keep under the eyes of your employer or landlord.” This may lead to admission problems, as they must have potential tenants or employees to prove their right to reside.
However, the consequences can be even more devastating for those who miss the deadline and thus lose their right of residence. “We don’t know how many have not applied” – Britain has no record of EU citizens living in the country, Barnard said. Civil rights organizations are particularly concerned with the elderly, the sick, and the homeless. Some of these people don’t even realize that they have to apply for a new status, or that the digital application process is a problem for them. According to experts, hundreds of thousands of applications have not yet been submitted. If they fail to do so by June 30, they should expect to be fired.
The London government has announced that it will also accept applications at a later date if there are “understandable reasons” – but what falls under this is a matter of interpretation. By the end of May, more than 5.6 million EU citizens had applied for the settlement program – and 5.27 million had been accepted. (SDA)