The deadline to apply for the UK EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) closed on 30 June 2021 and official figures show that the UK immigration program has received more than six million applications – way beyond the number of EU citizens thought to be residing in the UK. In June alone, more than 400,000 applied for UK permanent residency.
Since officially leaving the EU in December 2020, the UK has overhauled its immigration system, which allows EU citizens who had lived in Britain prior to 31 December 2020 to retain the right to work, study and access benefits in Britain, provided that they applied for the EUSS.
Workpermit.com recently reported that those who failed to apply for the EUSS by the 30 June deadline would be issued with 28-day UK immigration notices, in which time they must apply for UK permanent residency or ‘risk the consequences’, according to the Home Office.
More than five million accepted
Of the 6.02 million EUSS applications made, the Home Office has reportedly granted 5.45 million people permanent residency in the UK.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “I am delighted that we have secured the rights of so many EU citizens - our friends, neighbours and family members.”
“When we left the EU we promised to protect the rights of EU citizens who have made their life in the UK, and developed the hugely successful EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they could call the UK home in the years to come,” Patel added.
Meanwhile, the UK government said that it had ‘made it a priority’ to promote the campaign and urged eligible EU residents to apply.
Regarding the 28-day notices, the government has said that it will not seek to remove EU citizens following their expiration but would work with people to find out their reasons for not applying and come up with a solution.
The government has described the EUSS as a success. However, UK immigration rights campaigners argue that the scheme has left the most vulnerable – including children in care, young adults previously in care, the homeless and the elderly – in danger of slipping through the scheme’s cracks.
Fears have also been raised that the immigration policy could result in a disastrous legacy similar to the Windrush scandal, which wrongly targeted people who had been in the UK for decades for deportation as part of an illegal immigration sting.
However, Kevin Foster, the Minister for Future Borders and UK Immigration, said that safeguards had been built into the EUSS to protect those who have not yet applied, but who may still be eligible. “Everybody will get the UK immigration status they deserve,” Mr Foster said.
570,000 applications await approval
According to the Home Office, approximately 570,000 applications are still awaiting processing and approval but said that the status of those awaiting the outcome of their application will be protected.
Meanwhile, it’s understood that people who submitted an application prior to the deadline have received certification that can now be used to prove their UK immigration status for any reason, such as the right to work and the right to rent accommodation.
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