More than one million EU citizens have been granted settled or pre-settled status since the scheme was fully rolled out four months ago, the Home Office has said, allowing them to remain in the UK indefinitely after Brexit.
Poles topped the list for the highest number of applications, followed by Romanians and Italians, and the Home Office said it received more than 50,000 applications in the first weekend of the scheme.
The exact number has not been released, however Madeleine Sumption, director of The Migration Observatory, estimated that around 30 per cent of EU citizens living in the UK have now applied to the scheme, but said it was too early to pass judgement on how successful the scheme has been.
Noting that there is still more than a year still for people to apply for settled status before the scheme closes, Sumption said: “It’s too early to predict how high overall take-up of the scheme will be, and how good awareness is among EU citizens that they need to apply.
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“One thing that is clear at this early stage is that people from some countries have been coming forward more quickly than others – around half of Bulgarian citizens living in the UK are estimated to have applied by the end of July, for example, compared to only around 20 per cent of Poles.”
Karendeep Kaur, senior immigration consultant for Migrate UK, said the scheme’s success so far was due to its simplicity. “The process has proved to be simple, straightforward with an average time of 30 mins to complete the online application and uploading of documents,” she said.
Kaur said that decisions were being provided within 24 hours, sometimes sooner, and despite initial concerns that the system would crash under the number of applications, it was so far proving to be stable.
“There is no excuse not to apply, as the process is proving to be efficient and beginning to provide clarity to those in need of this and to those who have played a part in contributing to the UK,” she said.
Kaur added that the government’s provided toolkit for employers meant there was “no excuse” for why HR departments shouldn’t be assisting their workforce make their settled status applications.
“If the workforce needs reassurance, this is a way to show that an employee’s best interests are at the heart of the organisation,” she added.
Whether the UK leaves with a deal or not, EU citizens and their family members will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.
The figure of one million people having been granted status has been obtained from internal management information and is not part of the published statistics.