It would appear that more people are being given ‘temporary status’ as the backlog of unresolved cases reaches half a million. The numbers of EU citizens who are being granted a temporary more precarious ‘pre-settled status’ in the UK is continuing to rise and this is causing unease among many campaign groups who support EU nationals living in Britain.
EU citizens resident in the UK must apply for settled status if they want to continue living here legally, after Brexit. The latest EU settlement scheme statistics show that 590,300 people applied for settled status in October, bringing the total number of applicants to 2,450,000.
It is believed that just over 1.9 million people have been granted some form of status in the UK, but the proportion of people being allocated the more precarious temporary pre-settled status continues to rise, increasing from 32% in the testing phase of the scheme to 34% in the month after the national launch, in March, and up to 44% of all applications processed in October.
EU campaigners felt it was positive to see more than half a million people applying for the status for the second month running but expressed concern at the rise in the number of applications which had not yet been approved, and with the backlog now at more than 525,000.
Co-founder of the EU citizens’ campaign group the 3 million, said it was hard to understand exactly why the backlog was growing and that they didn’t know the reason why. Perhaps they may have processed the easier cases at the beginning and the more difficult ones are the ones creating the backlog, but more people are now waiting.
The group have described this rise in the proportion of applicants getting ‘inferior pre-settled status’ which represents a limited leave to remain in the UK, as a worrying trend. Many applicants have been correctly granted this status as they have not yet been in the country for five years and some are happy to accept this outcome because they have struggled to provide evidence that they have already lived here for that period. People who have been granted pre-settled status will have to re-apply for the full permanent settled status once they are able to provide evidence that they have lived continuously in the UK for five years.
Elena Remigi, who is the founder and director of the In Limbo project, which represents EU citizens said that the statistics show that there are a growing number of people applying for the settlement scheme, but it has also been noticed that an equally growing number of people have been waiting several weeks, if not months, before they receive a reply. It would appear the the elderly in particular seem to be the ones struggling with this scheme and many have been told to provide further evidence. Therefore many of them are receiving pre-rather than settled status.
The immigration organisation IMIX feels that although the Home Office is doing comparatively well in terms of processing the number of applications there are still not any robust numbers of EU citizens and their family members in the UK which the statistics can be measured against.
The Home Office say that EU citizens and their families have until 31st December 2020 to apply, and applicants can apply for an administrative review if they think they were wrongly granted pre-settled status.