By Luke Piper, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the3million.
This is urgent. The deadline for EU citizens living in the UK to apply for Settled Status and the right to remain in the UK is coming up on 30th June – that’s less than 40 days’ time. From that moment, EU citizens will be completely dependent on a digital-only status working 24/7. They need this to prove the right to be in the UK, to start a new job, to rent a flat or to get NHS treatment.
EU citizens have been denied any physical proof of their new status and we are asking you to help us change this. Their entire existence should not be solely based in the cloud. Too much is at stake.
We are already seeing problems with hundreds of UK residents unable to access their online status, being refused mortgages, being denied entry to the UK or having their status lost altogether.
One EU citizen who has been impacted said:
"I was granted Settled Status in April 2019. Today I tried to view my status online but I got a message saying: 'We cannot find your current status in this service.' This has given me a deep sense of uncertainty and anxiety."
This, from another EU citizen, summarises the situation:
"Having physical proof would ensure that issues with the Home Office IT system would not result in my losing my rights."
The government has said that it will fix any problems, that its IT system is infallible. But if the Windrush and Post Office Horizon scandals taught us anything, it was that we cannot rely on promises from government ministers on this topic. EU citizens need some form of physical proof.
The government is giving everyone the option to have both a physical and digital vaccine certificate. Why won’t they do the same for EU citizens and their new immigration status?
At the3million, we are fighting for the millions of EU citizens who call this country home. And on 21st May, as part of their Stories of Brexit Action Day, European Movement supporters will be meeting their MPs to demand that they offer real protection for the rights of EU citizens. To ask why the Government won’t give EU citizens a physical backup just like they have for vaccine certificates.
I am asking you to sign up to the European Movement’s Action Day and ask your MP to act now for EU citizens to get tangible proof of their status.