Numerous EU citizens living in Great Britain could feel the consequences of the Brexit in the coming weeks and months in an unpleasant way. "There is a whole series of problems that can happen", migration researcher Jonathan Portes told Deutsche Presse-Agentur ahead of a key Brexit deadline at the end of June. In the toughest case, burgers who didn’t take care of their residency rights in time could be forced to leave the country.
Proof only digital
The so-called EU Settlement Program is designed to give EU burgers living in the UK largely the same rights as before Brexit – such as the right to live and work in the country, but also access to the healthcare system and social benefits. Similar programs are also in place for Britons living in EU countries, and for several of them, as in the United Kingdom, the application deadline is the end of June.
After this deadline, it will become clear how well the new systems work in reality. According to experts, it could become a problem that EU citizens in Great Britain can only prove their right of residence in a relatively complicated way in digital form. "The government has made it clear that there will be no physical proof of residency", said Catherine Barnard of the think tank UK in a Changing Europe. "There is no document you can hold up to your employer or landlord." This could lead to acceptance problems, as they would be obliged to get proof of residency from potential tenants or employees.
Potentially hundreds of thousands without application
The consequences, however, could be even more devastating for those who missed the deadline and lose their residency rights as a result. "We do not know how many did not apply", Barnard said – the UK has no register of EU citizens living in the country.
Civil rights organizations are most concerned about the elderly, the sick and the homeless. Some of these people are not even aware that they have to apply for a new status, or the digital application process is a problem for them. Hundreds of thousands have yet to apply, experts estimate. If you do not receive this by 30. June, they had to expect to be deported.
The London government announced that, at "understandable reasons" even accepting requests later – but what this means is a matter of interpretation. By the end of May, more than 5.6 million EU burgers had applied to the settlement program – 5.27 million applications accepted.