LONDON: The British government won’t extend the June 30 deadline for European Union citizens in the U.K. to apply for permanent residency or risk losing their right to live and work in the U.K.
Britain’s departure from the EU last year ended the automatic right of people from the bloc to settle in the U.K., and of Britons to live in the 27 EU nations. As part of the divorce, both sides agreed everyone would keep the residence rights they had before Brexit.
In Britain, that means citizens of the EU and several other European countries must apply online for confirmation of their “settled status” if they want to continue to work, study or receive social benefits.
The U.K. government says there have been 5.6 million applications since the program opened in March 2019, only a handful of which have been refused. That is far more than the government’s pre-Brexit estimate that about 3 million EU citizens lived in Britain. The number of EU residents in Britain who have not applied is unknown.
“I want to be clear — we will not be extending the deadline,” Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said Wednesday. “Put simply, extending the deadline is not a solution in itself to reaching those people who have not yet applied and we would just be in a position further down the line where we would be asked to extend again, creating even more uncertainty.”
The government says people who have applied by the end of June will be sent letters giving them 28 days to act. People will also be able to apply after the deadline if they had “reasonable grounds,” such as an illness that prevented them doing it sooner, Foster said.