EU citizens could face deportation
EU citizens could be deported if they do not apply for settled status after Brexit by the deadline, a Home Office minister has said.
Brandon Lewis said they may be forced to leave the UK if they do not sign up to the EU settlement scheme by the end of 2020, even if they meet all requirements for a residence permit.
A campaign group said this was the first time the “grim reality” of the government’s position had been confirmed, and critics raised fears of another Windrush-style scandal.
The Home Office was making it clear that those with “reasonable grounds” for missing the date would be granted an extension to apply for the right to live and work in the UK.
The security minister told German newspaper Die Welt: “If EU citizens until this point of time have not registered and have no adequate reason for it, then the valid immigration rules will be applied.”
Pressed on whether that would include those who met the legal requirements for residence but did not apply in the next 14 months, he replied: “Theoretically yes. We will apply the rules.”
Two million people have applied to the scheme, according to Home Office figures.
This leaves up to two million more EU citizens needing to apply before the deadline.
As recently as Wednesday, the Home Office said EU citizens had until “at least” December 2020 to apply, but Mr Lewis’s words appear to be a hardening of the deadline.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the government was determined to prove “our worst fears correct” over concerns of another Windrush scandal.
“Threats by ministers that EU nationals could be deported are a complete breach of all the assurances that the government has made,” the MP added.
“This will be troubling to people who have come here in good faith and who contribute so much to our society.”
Diane Abbott raised fears of another Windrush scandal