The Home Secretary has said she sees “no reason why” the deadline to submit applications for the EU Settlement Scheme should be extended.
EU citizens are asked to apply to the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by June next year in order to carry on living and working in the UK after freedom of movement with the European Union ends.
But the department is no longer accepting documents by post, scanning facilities and a helpline for applications have closed, and charities are unable to meet applicants needing help and advice in person.
Facing questions from the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Priti Patel said: “The EU Settlement Scheme has been a great success.
“There is still over a year to apply yet.
“I think it’s important to recognise that throughout (coronavirus) support has not stopped. Let me be really clear on that, support has not stopped.
“We are still receiving approximately 2,000 applications every single day.
“We are absolutely there still providing support.”
She said from March 25 to April 19 over 20,000 emails had been received, adding: “So we are carrying on. So at this stage, we see no reason why, to answer your question, to extend the deadline when there is still over a year to apply.”
Campaigners last week called for the scheme to be extended because of delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this month immigration experts warned gaps in Government data were making it difficult to know whether the scheme was working.
So far more than 3.4 million (3,468,700) applications have been received for the scheme ahead of the deadline at the end of June next year.
According to the latest figures, a decision has been made on more than 3.1 million applications (3,147,100), leaving a backlog of 321,600 still to complete.
Some 58% (1,813,300) of concluded applications were granted settled status, giving them permanent leave to remain living and working in the UK, while 41% (1,299,300) were given pre-settled status, where they would need to re-apply again after living in the country for five years to gain permanent residence.