Brexit cut-off: Thousands of Europeans facing losing benefits in UK – ‘Total disaster’

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Under the post-Brexit rules, Europeans wishing to remain in the UK have to apply to stay by June 30. It comes as a new immigration system now applies to people who arrived in the UK from 1 January, 2021.

According to Settled, a settlement support charity, a backlog of people in the process of applying has reached tens of thousands.

Those who have not applied in time would lose their right to work and could even face deportation.

Now, as the deadline draws closer, Government estimates warned around one in six EU citizens who claim benefits have not applied for settled status.

According to the Times, officials believe there are around 820,000 European benefit claimants living in Britain.

Out of those, around 130,000 have not applied for settled status and around 70 percent receive universal credit.

This means they could discover they cannot claim benefits after June 30.

Maike Bohn, a co-founder of the3million – a campaign group for European citizens in the UK – said the numbers were “shocking”.

One minister told the Times: “The Home Office needs to get a grip of this, and quick, otherwise we could have a total disaster on our hands.”

A Government source added the figure had fallen to around 70,000 after letters were sent out encouraging people to apply for settled status.

A spokesperson said it was “working hard” to identify claimants who need to apply.

Settled status applies to those who have been living in the UK for a continuous five-year period.

Those living in the UK before Brexit but who have been in the country for less than five years are given pre-settled status.

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But these people will subsequently become eligible for settled status if they stay.

Global immigration lawyers Fragomen previously warned these people face becoming illegal immigrants overnight if they don’t act.

Nadine Goldfoot, the UK Managing Partner at Fragomen, said: “This really matters. Individuals and their families face having their world turned upside-down almost overnight.

“Failure to apply on time could see people lose the right to start a new job, difficulty renting a new flat or obtaining a mortgage, unable to access non-emergency health care, unable to drive a car, or even hold a bank account despite often living in the UK for many years.”

She continued: “Family members outside of the EEA have not been able to download the EU Exit ID app despite being eligible to apply for settled status.

“We have also seen challenges for individuals in the UK with documents that have expired and have been unable to have them renewed because of the Covid pandemic.

“And individuals who have been outside of the UK for extended periods of time because of the Covid pandemic are in danger of missing out as they do not realise or understand the Government’s concessions that would otherwise allow them to gain settled status.”

In recent months, the Home Office assured late applications would be treated fairly.

But Ms Goldfoot warned it is also “entirely meaningless”.

She added: “We will need to see how the Home Office treats late applications.

“Will they be granted or refused? It will be critical to see how long late applications take to process – very few people will be able to wait even a few weeks for a decision without a job, a home or important medical treatment.”

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