A 101-year-old Italian man who has lived in the UK since 1966 has been told that his parents must confirm his identity if he wishes to stay in the country beyond Brexit.
In what is being blamed on a computer error, Giovanni Palmiero was asked to send verification from his mother and father to complete the application for Settled Status while visiting an advice centre in Islington in north London.
According to a volunteer from the group the3million the scanner linked to the mobile app mistook Palmiero’s date of birth on his passport as 2019 rather than 1919 – meaning it was assumed he was just one year’s old.
It consequently triggered another step for Palmiero to take.
Dimitri Scarlato, who was helping the Italian, told the Guardian it took two calls and half an hour to make Home Office officials aware that it was a problem with the app rather than user error.
“I immediately noticed that something was wrong because when I scanned in his passport, it imported his biometric data not as 1919 but as 2019. It then skipped the face recognition section which is what it does with under-12s,” he explained.
“I was surprised. I phoned the Home Office and it took two calls and a half an hour for them to understand it was the app’s fault not mine”.
After the Home Office accepted the mistake he was then asked to provide proof of residence for five years in the country – even though he has been there since 1955 and the system is supposed to be able to find out this information through the tax residency system.
His son Assuntino told the newspaper: “It is more of a hassle than anything else. He is not going to be chucked out, but people of his age should not have to go through this process. They should just get it automatically. They should have a system for people who were here before 1973 and just post the documents out.
“They say you have to prove you have been here that long, but come on, they have HMRC records, council tax records. My parents are being sent their pensions, so how come they can’t find him on the system? If they wanted to check, they could easily.” “It’s like a humiliation, you’ve been here so long and then all of a sudden this happens. I am not worried about him because he has got us but it’s completely unfair on old people.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “When Mr Palmiero’s case was raised our dedicated EU Settlement Scheme team contacted him and those supporting him to assist with his application.
“Over 2.7 million people have now been granted status and there is a wide range of support in place online, in person or over the phone.”
The Home Office have said that other applicants who are over 100 have successfully used the app.