305,000 EU citizens in Home Office backlog as cliff-edge looms

EU citizens in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, lobbying MPs over post-Brexit rights in the UK

EU citizens in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, lobbying MPs over post-Brexit rights in the UK. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Home Office has been urged to give EU citizens in the UK the automatic right to stay as it emerged 305,000 applications are still yet to be processed.

EU citizens have a deadline of June 30 to apply for settled status to afford them legal status to carry on living and working in the UK now the Brexit transition period and freedom of movement has ended.

The latest figures show 5.4 million applications have been made to the scheme, with more than 4.9 million grants of status, but 305,000 are still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications.

Statistics from the Lib Dems also show that the number of EU citizens whose applications have been refused has doubled, from 34,420 at the end of December to 70,500 now.

The party is warning that those who aren’t given ‘Settled Status’ by the 30th June could become the victims of “a new Windrush-style scandal”.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “More than 300,000 of our European friends and neighbours still don’t know what will happen to them at the end of June. They are being forced to cross their fingers and hope the Home Office gets to their application in time.

“Boris Johnson promised all EU citizens the automatic right to stay, but this enormous backlog and the growing number of refusals show that the Settled Status scheme is anything but automatic.

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“It’s not too late, but the government must act now to prevent a new Windrush-style scandal in just a few weeks.

“EU citizens who’ve made their lives here contribute enormously to our economy, our public services and our society. They shouldn’t be forced to live with this uncertainty and anxiety any longer.”

It comes as the Home Office launched a new information campaign to try to ensure nobody misses out on settled status.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said: “Every day, thousands of people are being granted status under the hugely successful EU settlement scheme and I would urge people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible to secure the status they deserve in UK law.

“This new campaign will help us encourage those who need to apply to act now before the June 30 deadline.

“The government is committed to making sure everybody eligible for the scheme can apply, including those who are the most vulnerable or need extra support.”

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