European Union citizens in United Kingdom can apply to stay after Brexit

PA Archive  PA ImagesEU citizens in a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in 2017

PA Archive PA ImagesEU citizens in a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in 2017

"And having listened to concerns from members - and organisations like The 3 Million group - I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any European Union nationals who wish to stay".

Critics are warning that thousands could be left without legal status if applications are not processed quickly and efficiently.

"Failure to do so could cause massive problems in years to come, on a far bigger scale than the Windrush scandal".

"The Windrush people trusted the Home Office and many of them got deported because they were citizens but couldn't prove it", she told The Guardian.

According to the Press Association, officials expect to be able to process around 6,000 applications a day, with roughly 1,500 caseworkers on the scheme and another 400 dedicated to working on issues.

A trial of almost 30,000 applicants was restricted to people in specific professions, with only a small number of vulnerable people participating.

The process is still undergoing testing, but a trial of 30,000 people saw two-thirds of applications approved within three days and 81% within a week.

All EU citizens who hold a valid passport and any non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card can now apply for "settled status", but critics warn that thousands could be left without legal status to remain in the United Kingdom if applications are not in a speedy and efficient manner.

In order to apply, people need to fill a form online or use a smartphone app online compatible with Android.

"The benefit of this scheme is that it allows employers and HR professionals to apply early with their workers and spread a sense of security throughout their organisation that they are making steps towards securing a future for them and their family members".

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Its co-author Ms Rutter said: "The stakes are high".

"Get it wrong and the consequences are dire".

"The most important thing to note is that this will not backdate settled status as per the current EEA permanent residence rules", she said.

"Thousands will be left effectively undocumented and subject to Theresa May's hostile environment".

Those who have lived continuously in the United Kingdom for five years can apply for settled status under the scheme, meaning they are free to go on living and working in the United Kingdom indefinitely.

If even just 5% of those who need settled status fail to apply or are refused, it would leave as many as 175,000 people in the United Kingdom with an insecure immigration status, or without a status altogether, the think-tank said.

Will my application be refused if I have criminal convictions?

If the automated checks indicate that you have been living in the United Kingdom for a continuous five year period and you do not have a serious criminal record you will be granted settled status.

"Lastly, with there being a huge number of applicants looking to apply, as stated in previous months, it is more than likely that the system will fall over when attempting to process the millions of applications which will undoubtedly be flooding in".

"They will only need to complete three key steps, prove their identity, show that that they live in the United Kingdom, and declare any criminal convictions".

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