Thousands of EU children left in limbo after government fails to grant settled status

Young pro-EU campaigners at a 'Missing EU Already' rally outside the Scottish Parliament. Photograph

Young pro-EU campaigners at a 'Missing EU Already' rally outside the Scottish Parliament. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA. - Credit: PA

More than three million EU citizens have applied to live and work in the UK after Brexit according to the Home Office, but thousands of children are yet to have their applications processed.

The Home Office's latest internal figures show more than 2.7 million applicants have been granted permission to remain in the UK so far, while more than 2.7 million applications were made up until the end of last year.

Between August 28 2018 and December 31 2019, more than 2.4 million applications were finalised, the Home Office data showed.

But while 58% received full permanent settled status, 41% were handed pre-settled status, which gives them only temporary permission to keep living in the country and must reapply after five years.

The Home Office has also received 386,570 applications to the EU Settlement Scheme from under-18s, but has only granted permanent Settled Status to 199,260.

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Another 116,620 children were granted pre-settled status, which only gives the temporary right to stay in the UK for up to 5 years, while 69,610 are still waiting for a final decision to be made.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said the government was leaving children in legal limbo.

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"The way this Conservative Government is treating EU citizens in our country is shameful. They are callously inflicting uncertainty on thousands of children - many of whom were born and brought up here.

"Boris Johnson has reneged on his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK. Thousands will inevitably end up effectively undocumented, creating another Windrush-style scandal.

"Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU. Ministers must listen and end the cruel uncertainty for these families."

Home Secretary Priti Patel however said she was "delighted" with the success of the scheme.

"It's the biggest scheme of its kind in British history and means that EU citizens can evidence their rights for decades to come.

"It's now time for EU countries to adopt a similar scheme."

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