The Boris Johnson government wants to give a definitive boost to the regularization process for EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom, before closing the doors definitively from June 30. That is the date set for the call to end EU Settlement Scheme (EU Citizens Residence Plan), a large-scale regularization scheme designed so that EU citizens caught in British territory by Brexit do not go into a situation of illegality. 5.6 million people have requested it, and 5.2 have been granted. There remains a funnel of 400,000 applicants who have not yet received a response. Downing Street is now preparing to start sending notices to all those who have not applied for residency, giving them four weeks to exercise their right.
It is difficult to calculate how many people it is. Since the process began, many consulates of European countries have confirmed how the numbers of nationals handled by the British Ministry of the Interior were in some cases double those that they had registered. In the case of Spain, 150,000 citizens had registered at the consulates in the United Kingdom, and more than 300,000 have applied for their residence permit. “People who have not applied for residency before June 30 will not be immediately deprived of their social rights,” Secretary of State for Immigration Kevin Foster told the European Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lords. “A second process will then be opened, with a letter and a period of 28 days, to ask them to regularize their situation now. It will only be from the conclusion of those four weeks that we will study each case individually ”.
Several NGOs had asked the Johnson government to extend the regularization period, but the Home Office has rejected that possibility. In return, it has considerably relaxed the demands of the process. Anyone who can demonstrate on a “reasonable basis” that they already resided in the UK before 31 December 2020 can apply for residency. That is the deadline, although the deadline for submitting the application has then been extended for six months, until June 30. That is, people who have moved to British soil during 2021 do not fall within the conditions established to obtain residence.
Despite the good words of the Johnson Administration, several associations and experts have pointed out the potential problems of a process of regularization of historical dimensions that, by force, cannot have foreseen all the exceptions. It is estimated at more than 100,000 vulnerable people who could have been left out of the system: homeless citizens, with mental health problems, or elderly who have been residing in the United Kingdom for decades and have not considered that they should update their situation.
The law also requires tenants or employers to check whether their tenants or workers are legally resident. However, Foster has made it clear that this imposition can never be retrospective and has ensured that no one will lose their home or job unexpectedly. The Ministry of the Interior is also preparing to issue “application certificates” to all those who have started the regularization process and have not yet received a response.
One of the most pointed problems of this process from the beginning has been the decision of the British Government not to provide a physical proof, document or card, of residence. At all times he has defended that it is a digital process, and that the regularized persons will appear clearly in the system. This does not prevent small tenants or employers who do not have the capacity to verify they end up being carried away by their fear or suspicions and rejecting requests from community citizens. “The digital system offers considerable advantages. First of all, information is much easier to share. And secondly, there is the possibility of getting a confirmation code through our telephone services, ”said Foster. “The number of visits to our website in recent months confirms that people are already very familiar with the system.”