Less than one quarter of EU citizens have right to stay in Scotland, Home Office reveals

Written by Ailean Beaton on 22 August 2019 in News

Less than one quarter of EU citizens have attained the status they need to live and work in the UK after Brexit, Home Office figures show

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Less than a quarter of EU citizens living in Scotland have applied for settled status, the Home Office has revealed.

Just over 50,000 people have completed the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme, the programme that enables Europeans living in the UK to obtain the status they need to live and work here in future.

But more than 230,000 EU citizens live in Scotland and would be expected to apply for settled status through the scheme before the deadline of 31 December 2020.

The deadline could be extended to 30 June 2021 if the government agrees an EU whithdrawal deal. 

With just over two months until the Brexit deadline and the possibility of a no-deal scenario appearing increasingly likely, concerns have been raised about the uncertain status of so many people.

Scottish Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said: “It’s unacceptable that EU citizens in our communities are having to engage in this demeaning process and have been forced to live with extreme levels of uncertainty about how Brexit will affect their lives, their careers and their families.

“The Scottish Government has been consistently clear that in place of the EU Settlement Scheme, the UK Government should instead adopt a declaratory system, which would remove the need for people to make applications to continue living here.”

All immigrants from the European Union or the European Economic Area and Switzerland have to apply through the government scheme that was launched in March.

The scheme involves providing proof of identity and residency as well as disclosing any criminal history.

In addition, the Home Office said in August that EU freedom of movement would end immediately in the case of a no-deal Brexit in October.

This raised questions about the rights of EU citizens to leave and re-enter the UK legally.

The figures on settlement status come as the Office of National Statistics revealed that EU immigration to the UK was at its lowest since 2013.

Brandon Lewis, Home Office Minister for Security, Deputy for EU Exit and No Deal Preparation, said:

“The contribution made to Scottish life by EU citizens and their families is a huge one and my message to them is clear – we want you to stay.

“Through the EU Settlement Scheme, it is free and straightforward to make an application and I am pleased that more than 50,000 already have done so. 

“We’re looking to grant status under the Scheme, not to refuse it, and EU citizens have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.”

MacPherson urged EU citizens to stay in Scotland and pointed to the available help services for those going through the settlement scheme.

He said: “Our message to EU citizens is simple: this is your home, you are welcome here and we want you to stay.

“That is why the First Minister launched the Stay in Scotland campaign which highlights how much we value the contributions made by EU citizens living and working in Scotland and sets out the practical ways we will continue to support EU citizens living in Scotland.

“As part of this we are funding Citizens Advice Scotland to provide advice to EU citizens and their families, and this service includes a full-time, freephone advice line on 0800 916 9847.”

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