LONDON (AP) – More than 6 million EU citizens applied to settle in the UK before the end of June deadline set by the UK government as part of the country’s exit from the bloc.
In a statement on Friday, the UK Home Office said that of the 6.02 million people who applied, 400,000 applications had been made in the last month before the end of the EU settlement plan.
“Having more than 6 million applications for the program is an unprecedented achievement and I am delighted that we have secured the rights of so many EU citizens – our friends, neighbors and family members -” said Interior Minister Priti Patel.
The Interior Ministry said that the rights of the 570,000 people with pending applications will be protected pending a decision on their application and that there will be “indefinite leeway” for anyone who missed the deadline to submit a late application.
Individuals who submitted an application on time have received a certificate that they can use if for any reason they need to prove their immigration status, e.g. B. to start a new job or rent a property.
The scheme was introduced in March 2019 as part of the UK’s plans to leave the EU. One of the main effects of Brexit was the end of free movement, allowing anyone in any EU state to live and work anywhere within the bloc, which will comprise 27 countries after the UK leaves.
The scheme guarantees EU citizens in the country their rights, including access to services and health care, in the UK. Any EU citizen who did not apply could now lose their rights or even be deported.
Similar systems have been put in place in the EU in relation to the approximately 1 million British citizens living within the bloc. Those who applied for a residence permit in France after Brexit also had to meet a deadline on Wednesday.
A key concern is that immigration policies could leave a disastrous legacy, similar to the UK ‘windrush’ scandal when many Caribbean people who settled legally in the UK decades ago mistakenly enlisted tough new government rules to combat illegal immigration were involved.
Many of the “Generation Windrush” – named after the ship that carried the first post-war migrants from the West Indies – lost their homes and jobs or were even deported simply because they could not produce any papers proving their right of residence.
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