Jonathan Portes, a German newspaper company’s migration researcher, said there could be “many problems” before the crucial Brexit deadline in late June. In the worst case scenario, citizens who do not take good care of their right to reside will have to leave the country.
The so-called EU settlement plan guarantees EU citizens living in Great Britain the same rights as before pre-Brexit – that is, the right to live and work in the country, but access to health care and social services. UKs living in EU countries have similar plans, and for many, as in the UK, the application deadline is June.
After this period, it will show how well the new systems are actually performing. According to experts, the problem is that EU citizens in Great Britain can only prove their residency in digital form in a relatively complex way. “The government has made it clear that there will be no physical evidence,” said Catherine Bernard of the UK think tank in changing Europe. “There is no document you can keep under the nose of your employer or landlord.” This can lead to acceptance difficulties because they are forced to prove their tenants or employees their right to reside.
However, the consequences will be even more devastating for those who miss the deadline and thereby lose their right to reside. “We do not know how many people have applied,” said Bernard, adding that there was no record of EU citizens living in the UK. Civil rights organizations are particularly concerned about the elderly, the sick and the homeless. Some of these people do not even know that they have to apply for a new position, or that the digital application process is a problem for them. According to experts, hundreds of thousands have not yet submitted an application. If they fail to do so by June 30, they should be expected to be expelled.
The London government announced that it would accept applications later if there were “understandable reasons” – but the following is explanatory. By the end of May, more than 5.6 million EU citizens had applied for the settlement – more than 5.27 million had been accepted.