London Ahead of an important deadline, experts have warned of legal problems for hundreds of thousands of EU citizens living in the UK. The application deadline for the so-called EU Settlement Program ends on June 30.
“Anyone who has not applied by the deadline and cannot demonstrate a valid reason for submitting a late application will immediately and permanently lose their right of residence,” said a report by a UK think-tank in Changing Europe published on Wednesday. These people are at risk of deportation. Hundreds of thousands can be affected.
Adopted children and the elderly are particularly at risk
Eligible to apply for the program are EU citizens and people from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland who were in Great Britain before the end of last year. Experts consider elderly people, foster children or homeless people to be especially at risk of missing an important deadline – anyone who can find it difficult to apply purely digital or who don’t even realize they will apply for new status after Brexit should be from the European Union.
In addition, an obvious weakness is the lack of a register of EU citizens in Great Britain and the government cannot verify how many people are in the country who, in principle, have to apply.
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“The EU settlement scheme is a huge success because it created a fast and efficient system that has reached a large number of people. But it is now entering a phase that needs to be approached with sensitivity and where the government needs to show pragmatism and flexibility in difficult issues,” said Catherine Barnard, deputy director of the think tank. So far, more than five million people have applied for settled status in the UK – more than originally expected.
Problems can also arise from the fact that citizens with settled status do not have physical proof of their right of residence, but can only access it digitally in a very complex way. “There is no paper that can put a homeowner or business owner in sight,” Barnard said at a press briefing with reporters. Experts predict that after the deadline, it will take some time for problems and complications to appear to a greater extent.
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