Home secretary Priti Patel has ruled out an extension to the EU settlement scheme, despite the coronavirus lockdown.
Facing questions from the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Patel said she saw ‘no reason why’ the Home Office should extend the deadline applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
There had been calls from opposition MPs to extend the deadline after figures in March dropped by 100,000 applications compared to the month before.
Patel set a deadline date of June 2021 for EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status to remain after Brexit.
In March 125,000 applications were received, compared to 235,800 in February. This is the lowest monthly figure since June last year when 121,000 were recorded.
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But Patel told the committee: ‘The EUSS has been a great success.
‘There is still over a year to apply yet. I think it’s important to recognise that throughout (coronavirus) support has not stopped. Let me be really clear on that, support has not stopped.
‘We are still receiving approximately 2,000 applications every single day.
‘We are absolutely there still providing support.’
She said from March 25 to April 19 over 20,000 emails had been received, adding: ‘So we are carrying on. So at this stage, we see no reason why, to answer your question, to extend the deadline when there is still over a year to apply.’
Maike Bohn, from the3million campaign representing EU citizens in the UK, previously said: ‘The UK does not know how many people must apply, how many people have applied, and they also don’t know whether the people who have applied successfully have been granted the right status.
‘We fear that by the application deadline next year neither the Home Office nor organisations like the3million will know how many EU citizens will not have secured their rightful status.’