The deadline for EU citizens to apply for settled status in the UK is an “unmitigated disaster”, according to immigration experts, as the government’s post-Brexit rules threaten to strip thousands of their rights.
After midnight on June 30, people from the EU cannot make a claim for their right to stay and work in the country under the government’s settlement scheme. Those who do not apply, or have their applications turned down, could lose access to free healthcare through the NHS and the welfare system.
“The prime minister promised EU citizens “absolute certainty” of the right to live and remain in the UK [after Brexit],” said Paul Blomfield MP, Labour’s shadow brexit minister, who warned the country was on the verge of a “Windrush-type tragedy”.
“But serious questions remain unanswered,” he added. “Reports suggest the government has estimated up to 130,000 of those eligible for benefits haven’t applied for settled status.”
A Home Office spokesperson said it was using “every possible channel” to encourage anyone eligible to apply for settled status.
Raising an urgent question in parliament ahead of the cut-off, Blomfield pressed Kevin Foster MP – Home Office minister – on what the government would do to protect older EU citizens in social care, survivors of domestic abuse, children in care and renters, all of whom he said were at particular risk of losing their rights.