Vulnerable EU citizens failing to secure the right to remain in the UK after Brexit
Vulnerable EU citizens including the elderly, children in care and victims of domestic abuse are particularly at risk of failing to secure the right to remain in the UK after Brexit, academics have warned. As the UK draws closer to departure from the bloc, the government is developing a system to give EU citizens already living in the UK “settled status”, said The Guardian.
The Migration Observatory research is based on what has been negotiated so far about the EU-UK agreement on rights for EU citizens and their families. The report comes just weeks after migration experts warned that children of two EU citizens may not be eligible to get British passports even if they were born in Britain.
People who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously and “lawfully living” in the UK for five years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by acquiring settled status. Those who will not have been living here for five years when the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to stay until they have reached that five-year threshold. Then they too can also apply for settled status.
Ministers have previously said the application process will include an online form of six to eight questions, cost no more than that charged for a British passport – currently £75.50 – and should deliver a decision within two weeks of the application being submitted. It is understood that the Home Office could make a mobile app available for the process.
But a “potentially significant” number of people may not be aware that they need to apply, including tens of thousands of children, the Oxford University-based Migration Observatory said, warning that the government will need to ensure that those eligible are well-informed.
The Home Office said it was planning a range of support for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and families, victims of domestic violence, and those with English as a second language.
Children in care are singled out by the academics as being particularly vulnerable as they may not have support completing an application and may have difficulty producing evidence of residence if they have moved frequently between foster homes and schools. Others at risk have specific vulnerabilities, such as 50,000 female domestic abuse victims, who may also miss out on the procedure, the Migration Observatory said.
In a report, titled “Unsettled Status? Which EU Citizens are at Risk of Failing to Secure their Rights after Brexit?”, the migration experts said others may struggle to navigate the application process, including nearly 60,000 aged 75 and over and those without access to the internet. Others who may struggle include the disabled, those with dementia, and about 250,000 who struggle with the English language.
EU citizens living in the UK are on average highly educated and should not be expected to have problems, the academics add, but if they have more than one of the vulnerabilities described, it will put them at risk of falling out of the process. There are about 3.4 million non-Irish EU citizens living in the UK, the vast majority of whom should be eligible for settled status, they said.