Home Immigration News Tens of thousands of EU nationals in UK could become undocumented after Brexit in crisis ‘worse than Windrush’

Tens of thousands of EU nationals in UK could become undocumented after Brexit in crisis ‘worse than Windrush’

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Author: May Bulman

Tens of thousands of EU nationals living in Britain could become undocumented migrants after Brexit in a crisis bigger than the Windrush scandal, campaigners have warned.

It is claimed the Home Office’s system of requiring all EU citizens to apply for settled status ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc could leave swathes of vulnerable people unable to prove their right to be in the country in years to come.

The EU Settlement Scheme, which opens today (21 January), is designed by the government to grant post-Brexit residency to EU citizens and their family members, who will have until 30 June 2021 to apply.

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It will require applicants to prove their identity by using a mobile app which is part of an integrated online application process, at a cost of £65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16.

But campaigners said that while the scheme may work for those who are aware of it, efforts to inform harder-to-reach people such as the elderly, those who don’t speak English and those who are being exploited, were “completely inadequate”.

And further criticism was levelled at the government over an app designed to process applications that can only be used on Android smartphones and tablets – cutting out Apple’s popular iOS devices. Other registration methods are available.

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “They say they are doing advertising, that they are doing outreach and free events for people – but it’s completely inadequate for the situation at hand.

“If politicians meant it when they said EU nationals could stay, they would have made settled status a legal guarantee and said everyone who is currently a resident in the UK as an EU national has a permanent right to remain.”

Mr Patel accused ministers of using the scheme as a way to appear to “take back control” and remove a subset of people who they want to deport, but to the detriment of vulnerable individuals who will not be aware of it, or not have the means to apply.

“Ministers want it to be a political taking back control. They do not want to be seen to be granting settled status to people who are ‘undesirable’,” he said.

“But it means that we’ve got as a matter of absolute certainty at least tens of thousands of people who will end up being here illegally afterwards, just because they didn’t apply for the status – and that is going to be a problem.”

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-nationals-brexit-settlement-scheme-undocumented-windrush-a8735426.html

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