Deadline for EU settlement scheme looms
Applications to the EU settlement scheme must be made by midnight on Wednesday or EU citizens could risk losing the right to stay in the UK.
The SNP has called on the UK government to scrap the deadline due to concerns that not everyone who needs to had applied.
And Labour has suggested a three-month extension due to reports of a backlog in processing applications at the Home Office.
But the government has insisted the deadline remains fixed, though procedures are in place to consider late applications.
At the end of May, more than 5.6 million people had applied for the scheme.
This is considerably higher than anticipated, as it was thought there were only 3.7 million EU nationals living in the UK.
Any EU citizen who was living in the UK before the end of 2020 can apply for settled or pre-settled status under the scheme which gives them the right to continue to live and work in the UK.
Anyone who had not applied technically becomes an illegal immigrant.
SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said: “This is the Prime Minister’s last chance to prevent hundreds of thousands of EU nationals being stripped of their rights overnight, as well as a hammer blow to Scotland’s economy and NHS. I am urging him to take it and scrap the deadline.”
The party has previously called for a declaratory system whereby EU nationals are automatically granted settled status.
Labour’s Paul Bloomfield warned there was a “real risk of a new Windrush-type tragedy” if the deadline was not extended as around 400,000 applications are waiting to be processed.
UK immigration minister Kevin Foster told the Commons yesterday the scheme would close today but a “flexible approach” would be taken for those who do not apply in time.
He said: “We will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to considering late applications made after the deadline.
“Our priority will remain to encourage those eligible to secure their status, and the examples of reasonable grounds given in the guidance that we have published are non-exhaustive.
“Each case will be considered based on its unique circumstances.”