Home office minister Bradon Lewis has stated that the UK will deport EU citizens after Brexit if they do not apply for the right to remain in time.
“They would have to leave even if they met all the criteria for a residency permit.” He informed, adding “If EU citizens until this point of time have not registered and have no adequate reason for it, then the valid immigration rules will be applied.”
Comments that have cause a stir and critics have lashed back.
Campaign group the3million, which represents EU citizens in the UK, said this was “no way to treat people”.
The Home Office states it does not have an exact figure for the number of EU citizens currently living in the UK, but estimates put it at 3.3 million, excluding Irish citizens who have the right to settled status already.
Of those 3.3 million, the Home Office confirm that 1.8 million people had applied to the scheme and others have until “at least” December 2020.
Clarifying that those with “reasonable grounds” for missing the date would be granted an extension to apply for the right to live and work in the UK.
Currently, EU nationals – and their families – living in the UK by 31 October have until the end of 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in the event of a no-deal Brexit, or the end of June 2021 if there is a deal.
Those applying for settled status must prove their identity, show they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.
Once granted settled status, they can use the NHS, study and access public funds and benefits, as well as travel in and out of the country.
So far, of the 1.8 million who have applied, 61% have been granted settled status and 38% have been given pre-settled status, which can be applied to be updated once someone has lived in the country continuously for five years.
Lib Deb home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine said she was “absolutely appalled” by Brandon Lewis’s deportation threat and she predicted “thousands” of people would be left undocumented by the “arbitrary” deadline.
“Brandon Lewis has finally confirmed what we’ve known all along: Boris Johnson has no intention of keeping his promise to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK,” said Ms Jardine.
“That is totally unacceptable.”