Hundreds of EU nationals were denied the right to stay in the United Kingdom following Brexit, according to government statistics published on 20 March. The figures show 300 people were not given settled status, meaning they will have no right to live in Britain after June 2021, the deadline for a EU settlement scheme, unless they appeal the Home’s Office decision.
According to The Independent, this number is small, given the fact that the Home Office processed almost 3 million applications, however it represents a rise in the number of rejections. Only 7 people have been denied the right to stay over the past few months on the grounds of criminality, whereas those 300 individuals were denied due to issues of eligibility.
The Home Office said officials did everything to obtain the necessary evidence before making the decision, which the department noted was not an easy one.
"This is hard to explain. We urgently need more explanation from the Home Office as to why those cases have been refused. It is concerning that as soon as the UK left the EU we see people being refused settled status", Maike Bohn, co-founder of the campaign 3million told The Independent, noting that there were no refusals on eligibility grounds before February 2020.
Christopher Desira, immigration solicitor at Seraphus, voiced concern that there would likely be more rejections beyond the grounds of criminality. He stressed that the current outbreak of coronavirus may cause problems with individuals being unable to contact the department due to gaps in free outreach and lack of free services. However, the Home Office stressed that it has wide range of services that are available online, over the phone, and in person to EU citizens, who are applying for settled status via the Settlement Scheme.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
EU citizens can easily travel and work in member states due to so-called freedom of movement, however Britain’s decision to leave the bloc in 2016 put millions of EU citizens staying in the UK in limbo. They now have to sign up to settlement scheme if they want to live and work in Britain. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.