Ministers have confirmed that EU citizens without settled status are liable for deportation after the deadline, after government figures showed that more than 7,000 applications have failed.
Those who are not granted settled status by the government deadline of December 31 2020 “the applicable immigration rules will apply”, under-secretary of state for immigration Brandon Lewis confirmed in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt.
Those who have not applied because of lack of information or as a political protest – even if they fulfil all the conditions for a residence permit – will also be deported, confirmed Lewis.
“Theoretically yes,” he said in response to the query. “We will apply the applicable rules.”
Recently released government figures show there has been a spike in applications in the run-up to October 31 as the threat of a no-deal Brexit looms.
In September alone, 520,600 EU citizens in the UK applied for their right to remain after Brexit out of a total of more than 1.8 million applications received so far.
One and a half million applications have been concluded, with 61% gaining settled status and 38% were given pre-settled status.
Two applications have also been refused so far “on suitability grounds”, said government statistics.
The government figures also show that out of the 1.5 million applications that have been processed, 0.5% – or about 7,622 – were refused either because the application was withdrawn, did not fulfil all the information needs of the application, or because the applicant was ineligible in the first place.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has already censured the Home Office for exaggerating the simplicity of the paperwork needed to apply.
A government advert was banned in September by the ASA for misleading the public.
MORE: Home Office advert banned for ‘misleading’ applicants to EU Settlement SchemeThe claim, made on a radio advert, said that all applicants needs is “your passport or ID card and to complete an online form”, when in a large number of cases extra paperwork was needed.
After the ASA confirmed the advert breaches advertising code on two counts, the Home Office’s statement in response repeated the same misinformation as given in the advert itself.
Despite numerous requests from The New European, the Home Office refused to comment on its continued use of the misleading statement.
The settled status scheme already contradicts what was promised by official Vote Leave literature in 2016, whose campaign literature said: “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”
Labour MP David Lammy, who supports the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: “This administration’s obsession with ending free movement risks another crisis on the scale of Windrush.
“It is an utter disgrace that they are treating people’s livelihoods as bargaining chips in their pursuit of a reckless and damaging no-deal Brexit.
“The government has to change direction to prevent a disaster. Giving the people a final say on Brexit is the first step towards finding a solution.”
Liberal Democrat MP home affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine also said she was “appalled”.
She said: “I am absolutely appalled. I have just been at a school where a Hungarian-born pupil told me she was scared about Brexit, and now I learn that the Conservative government is threatening to deport people like her.
“Brandon Lewis has finally confirmed what we’ve known all along: Boris Johnson has no intention of keeping his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
“No one seriously believes the Home Office will have granted settled status to all 3.6 million EU citizens by the Conservatives’ arbitrary December 2020 deadline. Thousands will inevitably be left effectively undocumented – and now the government is saying it will deport them.
“That is totally unacceptable. EU citizens are our friends and neighbours, our carers and families, and Liberal Democrats demand better for them. That’s why we’re fighting to stop Brexit and prevent another Windrush-style scandal.”
Brandon Lewis said in a tweet that his words had been taken “somewhat out of context”.
Responding to Sky’s Sam Coates on Twitter, he said: “My words are somewhat taken out of context. EU citizens have till at least Dec 2020 & there’s plenty of help available to apply. We’ve now had 2 million applications & we’ve always said we’ll allow time for those with reasonable grounds for missing the deadline.”
He also tweeted that there is “no reason” an EU citizen should ever be removed from the UK, because “EU Settlement Scheme gives people a status in UK law”.