Polish ambassador urges UK Poles to return amid settlement scheme concern
PUBLISHED: 14:14 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 18 September 2019
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The Polish ambassador to the UK has written to Poles in the UK asking them to "seriously consider returning to their homeland" after raising concerns about the post-Brexit settlement scheme.
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Arkady Rzegocki told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he had written to about 800,000 Poles in the UK, saying should consider it because the Polish economy is growing and living standards improving.
"They are much different compared to five to 10 years ago," he said.
He has raised concerns with the UK's post-Brexit settlement scheme for EU citizens, saying there were "quite a lot of problems" with the system.
"It is straightforward but we are concerned about this process a little," he told the Today programme.
"Forty-two per cent of EU citizens who have applied to achieve settled status have had problems. Many have received pre-settled status.
"Many people do not realise they have to register as they have lived here for many years - even if they have resident status, they still have to register."
He continued: "There are quite a lot of problems with people trying to receive settled status. People who have been here five or 10 years have also had problems."
In his letter to Poles in the UK, he said there is still time to apply for settled status but advised those who want to stay to apply soon, as an "alarmingly low" number of Poles - 27% - have done it so far.
"I also encourage you to seriously consider the possibility of returning to your homeland," he wrote.
"The rapidly growing economy of our country creates more and more opportunities for citizens for development and good living conditions in the country.
"Soon, Great Britain, which has been home to thousands of Poles for generations, will most likely cease to be a member of the European Union - which we regret, but we also see this process as an opportunity to strengthen the bond between our two countries."
The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics suggests around 832,000 people born in Poland were resident in the UK in 2018, the joint highest overseas-born population alongside India.
Every EU citizen living permanently in the UK must register for settled status or pre-settled status to be able to remain legally in the country after the current Brexit deadline of October 31.
This must be done by the end of June 2021, or by the end of 2020 in the event of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.
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