How EU citizens can apply to stay in UK – or lose their rights at midnight

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3 min read
An advertisement for the EU Settlement Scheme is displayed on 11th June 2021 in Hounslow, United Kingdom. The UK government is using such advertisements to urge EU citizens living in the UK by 31st December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
An EU Settlement Scheme advert in Hounslow, London. (Getty Images)

The deadline for EU citizens to apply for post-Brexit residency passes at midnight.

In order to continue living in the UK, all EU citizens – as well as people from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – must make an application under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme, which was introduced in March 2019.

Boris Johnson said at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday: "I encourage anybody who is still eligible to submit their applications today."

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the deadline.

What does the scheme provide?

As well as the immigration status needed to continue living in the UK, it provides eligibility to:

  • work in the UK

  • access the NHS free of charge

  • enrol in education or study

  • access public funds such as benefits and pensions

  • travel in and out of the UK

  • apply for British citizenship if desired

How do people apply?

The application is a three-step process online, and each one can be linked to other family members’ applications.

People must prove their identity, show they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.

Watch: Wednesday's daily politics briefing

To apply, follow this link to the government’s EU Settlement Scheme website.

Support for applications is available from the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre by calling 0300 123 7379.

How many applications have been made so far?

The latest Home Office statistics show that as of 31 May, 5.61 million applications had been received, with 5.27 million of these concluded.

Will there be an extension to the deadline?

Johnson said at PMQs that it won't happen, saying: "Clearly, the most important thing is for anybody who still hasn't applied to get their application in today."

However, a Home Office spokeswoman has said: “If someone hasn’t applied by the deadline of 30 June, we will take a flexible and pragmatic approach.

“They will be encouraged to apply as soon as possible and we have been clear that where someone has reasonable grounds for missing the deadline, we will work with them first to give them the opportunity to apply.”

"Reasonable grounds" include where a person:

  • has failed to apply on behalf of a child

  • has a serious medical condition

  • is in an abusive relationship or a victim of modern slavery

  • is unable to apply for compassionate reasons, including in light of the coronavirus pandemic

What happens to people who don't apply?

Immigration enforcement officers will be given powers to issue a 28-day notice to anyone they discover who may be eligible for the scheme but cannot prove their immigration status. 

This will tell them to take urgent action to establish their lawful status by applying to the scheme.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24, 2021: Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel leaves 10 Downing Street on June 24, 2021 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Priti Patel's Home Office has received more than 5.6 million applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. (Getty Images)

The Home Office has insisted it will give people every chance to apply to the scheme, but if they continue to fail to apply, the department has confirmed they may be liable for enforcement action and will not be eligible for work, benefits or access to services like healthcare.

How many applications are still to be processed?

There is an estimated backlog of about 400,000 applications.

It typically takes about five working days for complete applications to be processed, but it can take longer than a month if more information is needed.

The Home Office has not committed to completing all applications by Wednesday.

Read more:

What is the EU Settlement Scheme and how does it work?

'Priti Patel’s hostile environment for EU citizens will fuel racism and inflict misery on the vulnerable' (comment piece)

But the government has confirmed that anyone who applies by the deadline will have their existing rights protected, subject to the decision and any appeal.

And applicants will have access to a “certificate of application” while they wait for a decision, which they can show anyone that requires proof of their application – such as employers and landlords.

Watch: What you need to know about COVID-19 variants

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