Millions of EU citizens can now apply for settled status in the UK as the government has opened up its post-Brexit registration system, Sky News reports.
EU citizens living in the UK, estimated at 3.5 million, have until June 2021 to apply for settled status, through a process that costs GBP 65. The government has hired 1,500 new caseworkers, developed a smartphone app and invested GBP 175 million in the scheme.
However, some groups have warned that hundreds of thousands of people could potentially be unable to register correctly to keep their right to remain in the UK, due to issues like limited English or IT skills or being unaware of the requirements.
The app will require users to upload documents, answer questions and submit photographs in order to apply for settled status, and this complex process could mean that many people could have their applications rejected due to technical issues.
“We urge the government to do everything in its power to make sure everyone’s rights are protected after Brexit. Instead of creating a system that defaults to removing rights if a person does not pay for an application, the government should today grant a free and permanent legal right to stay to all EU nationals resident in the UK,” said Chai Patel, legal policy director at the joint council for the welfare of immigrants.
In a pilot scheme last year, the app was tested on 30,000 people and almost 10 percent of applicants had not received any answer three weeks after their submissions.
According to estimations, there could be up to 6,000 submissions per day after the Brexit deadline.
Applicants with fewer than five years of having lived in the UK will be given pre-settled status.