Scotland urges Home Office to extend EU settlement deadline

With just one month to go until the deadline, Scotland’s Europe minister has urged the Home Office to extend the cut-off date for the EU settlement scheme as thousands of those eligible in Scotland have not applied.

Jenny Gilruth said thousands of people living in Scotland risk their lives being “turned upside down” if they do not meet the deadline on 30 June.

Her remarks comes as campaigners repor severe backlogs in processing residency claims, potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of European citizens in limbo at the end of next month. The latest figures show 5.4 million applications have been made for settled status, with more than 4.9 million granted.

Gilruth said: “The risks for EU citizens who do not apply to the EUSS by the 30 June deadline will be life-changing. They won’t be able to work, study, claim benefits, drive a car or open a bank account. In short, their lives will be turned upside down.

“We know that thousands of eligible fellow citizens living in this country have yet to apply. I call on the UK government to therefore extend that 30 June deadline. In my view, this is a simple and practical way of avoiding another Windrush scandal.”

Despite a government pledge to be “extremely understanding” about late applications, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said those who failed to secure status would no longer be eligible for homelessness assistance immediately after the deadline. The health department said those EU citizens living in the UK who failed to apply in time would instantly start to be charged for non-urgent NHS treatment.

Addressing the country’s European citizens, Scotland’s Europe minister said: “Scotland is your home, you are our family, and we want you to stay here with us.”

Gilruth said until the deadline was extended, “it remains critical that all EU citizens complete an application by 30 June 2021”, although she added that the Scottish government “stands ready to do all we can” to help those who did not meet the cut-off.

Despite the reduction in travel because of Covid, Home Office figures show that the number of EU citizens prevented from entering the UK past three months has soared compared with the same period last year. A total of 3,294 people were stopped at a border, compared with 493 in the first quarter of 2020, with reports of EU travellers locked up for days at detention centres after making honest mistakes about the new rules.

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