EU citizens – worries for millions

We've left

One person in a conversation recently said: “Surely it is not a problem for them [EU citizens]. They can apply to the EU settlement scheme”. Yes they can and many have done so, some have received either their settled or pre-settled status, while others are still waiting, unsure of what the result will be. Some did not apply by the deadline of 30 June 2021, yet have lived here for maybe more years than they have in their home country, married but did not apply for their citizenship, not expecting to be worried about living here. They may have children at school, built up a business or career and in doing so have paid their taxes.

Patrick Worrall reports that Ian Blackford, the SNP leader in the House of Commons, asked for the date to be scrapped as: “We know there are hundreds of thousands of unprocessed cases. It is simply unacceptable, Mr Speaker, that their rights will be diminished by the failures of this government.” The government promised that the people who have not been processed yet will have their rights protected while awaiting a decision. This may be a brief relief, but whilst waiting, life is insecure and unsettling.

Climate change or EU status?

The Home Office figures show that the department had received 6 million applications for settled status. Just over one half (52%) have been granted indefinite leave (settled) status. Another 43% have pre-settled status, limited to five years. It has been asked: “And then what? Live in fear for five years to possibly lose everything anyway?”. So far 2% have been refused, according to the Home Office. Applicants have been told that from 1st July the ‘Certificate of Application “will be proof to continue their rights until a decision has been made.” However, that certificate has to be received from the Home Office.

If an EU citizen missed the 30 June deadline they will not automatically be deported or lose their access to benefits. However, they will be at risk of enforcement if they come into contact with authority. They will be given a written notice giving them the option to apply within 28 days, but have to have ‘reasonable grounds’ for missing the deadline. A government source told Channel 4 FactCheck that “whether such action is taken will be determined in accordance with immigration enforcement policy guidance relating to those in breach of immigration law and following a careful assessment of the individual’s circumstances.” Not much comfort, reading just how often the Home Office change their laws to suit themselves.

In June 2016 as part of the referendum campaign on EU membership, Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Gisela Stuart and Boris Johnson said in statement “EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.” In July 2019, Boris Johnson made a statement that EU nationals in Britain “have the absolute certainty for the right to live and remain”. Some campaigners were confused at this, somehow believing that Johnson would change the law to guarantee residency rights for EU citizens, which of course has not happened.

Yes, in Europe, British nationals have also to ask for permission to stay, but the question is surely: Why has this problem come about at all on either side of the Channel? And the answer is Brexit or at least, a bad Brexit deal.

Image Credits: Tumisu / Pixabay


  1. I met and married my wife in Central Asia. I have lived in five countries (three in the EU) and in each I have had to register and prove I had private health insurance. 19 years ago we decided to move to the UK. We had to prove means, proof of a job, proof of address and its size and my wife had a full medical +X rays and a lengthy interview with the consul. On arrival she was admitted for a year on a wife visa and I was “Admitted as a British National for resettlement” She had no access to public support for one year – I had none for three. If these rules were applied to all I wonder how many immigrants from anywhere there would be.

    All countries have rules and the registration for EU nationals are amongst the least onerous in the world. All of us have the responsibility to update (I just moved after 11 years and had to update my driving license) and I know of nowhere that allows oversight as an excuse for not doing so. Brexit has happened and there has been plenty of time for everyone to adjust.

  2. Michael it sounds you have overcome many hurdles but there are people who may not be as clued up as you or have friends who would do it for them.
    I have a 93 year old friend, paid her taxes had a shop was married, bright, best memory but she might have not realised deadline as many other older EU citizens
    Of course we made sure all papers were legal as I did for myself. But as I said it is not a given for everyone to have been aware or computer savvy.

  3. Thank you, Heidi Foster, for such a fluent, elegant and well structured piece. A delight to read and a good stimulus to think about the issues.

  4. Agree with Bob Harper. And just realised any HGV drivers given ‘special status’ to work here until 24th December have to pay £500 for the privilege.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here