Downing Street has confirmed the United Kingdom will not automatically deport European Union citizens who have not signed up to the settled status scheme.
Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s Brexit co-ordinator said the UK government had given assurances that EU citizens who miss the 30 June 2021 deadline will still be able to make an application to stay in UK without being automatically deported.
There are an estimated 3.6 million EU residents in the UK and more than 2.7 million have applied for settled status in the UK post Brexit under the settlement scheme. Almost 2.5 million applications have so far been successful – with six “serious or persistent” criminals have been denied their applications, reports the BBC.
Home Office minister Brandon Lewis had stoked fears in October when he told German newspaper Die Welt: “If EU citizens have not registered by then [the end of 2020 original deadline] without an adequate justification, the immigration rules will apply,”
When asked if this meant EU citizens who failed to apply, even if they fulfilled all the criteria and conditions for a residence permit, Lewis replied: “Theoretically yes. We will apply the rules.”
Verhofstadt met with Brexit secretary Steven Barclay yesterday and tweeted: “Frank discussion with @SteveBarclay. I presented the @Europarl_EN‘s resolution on citizen’s rights, adopted this week by a large majority. A few adjustments from the UK & more action from some EU countries would end the anxieties of many UK & EU-citizens who deserve certainty.”
Giving grounds to stay
Verhofstadt told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning (Friday) that EU will citizens will have to give “grounds why it was not possible to do it [their application] within the normal procedures.”
He added: “There will be no automatic deportation.”
A statement released by the Home Office on their blog said: “The EU Settlement Scheme is providing certainty to millions of EU citizens across the country and some of the misconceptions we’ve seen about the settlement scheme have been unhelpful when our focus is on providing reassurance.”
Referring to the “grace period” for EU citizens, the statement said: “We have made it clear that where people have reasonable grounds for missing the original deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.”
‘It’s time countries made same generous offer to UK nationals’
Brandon Lewis – the Home Office minister whose comments to Die Welt caused anxieties – said in a statement released on Thursday: “EU citizens are our friends, family and neighbours and we value the huge contribution that they have made to our country.”
He added: “We have done more than other EU member states to support EU citizens and it’s time other countries made the same generous offer to the million UK nationals who live among them.”
Verhofstadt told the Today programme: “There is a problem also with anxiety for the UK citizens living on the continent,” and said the EU will now “increase the pressure” with ”a letter going out from all sides – parliament, the council – to member states saying: ‘Look, in 12 countries things are going very well.’
“In 12 countries they have a declaratory system, so there’s no need to advocate for citizenship of that country. In others it is more difficult and we want to be sure that, in 2020, in these other 15 countries of the European Union, things are going smoothly.”
The UK will leave the EU on January 31, 2020.