The Home Office is quietly trialling a new fast-track online system to handle an expected surge in permanent residency applications from EU migrants in the UK concerned about their British immigration status in the run-up to Brexit.
The Home Office has confirmed that it is testing the system which simplifies the current process that includes and completing, printing out and posting by special delivery an 85-page form ahead of a public launch later this year.
The 3.5 million EU nationals currently living in Britain do not need to apply for a £65 residency card to prove their right to live and work in Britain and there are only about 25,500 applications a year mainly from non-EU spouses or children of an EU national in Britain.
But the continuing uncertainty of the legal status of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit means that there is now likely to be a huge increase in demand for residence applications from those who anticipate restrictions being placed on their freedom of movement within Europe.
The Oxford University-based Migration Observatory has said that depending on the progress of the Brexit negotiations there may also be a need to quickly register all EU citizens already living in the UK.
Migration Observatory director, Madeleine Sumption, has estimated that the complexities of the existing paper-based system means it could take 140 years to register all 3.5m EU citizens in Britain at current rates of processing if they all apply.
The Financial Times quotes one person who was helping to operate the two-week trial admitting that the trial was also part of a stocktaking exercise to assess the numbers of EU nationals living and working in Britain.
Jurga McClusky head of immigration at law firm, Deloitte, told the FT: If we have EU workers with [secure residence] status there could be provisions within government policy to protect them in the long-term, meaning that free movement laws will continue to influence UK immigration policy for a period of time post-Brexit.
McClusky added that questions, however, may arise over the status of EU nationals who were not able to register and had difficulty proving their residency in Britain before a cut-off date because they were, for example, students or self-employed.
A government spokesman said: As part of the ongoing Home Office programme to digitise applications, we have launched a number of online options. We are currently testing an online service which simplifies the process by allowing some EEA nationals to submit electronic applications.
The move was disclosed as the Polish deputy prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said during a visit to London that he expected many Poles to return to Poland after Britain leaves the European Union.
I believe there well be many people coming back – a couple of hundreds of thousands may come back over the next five years, he told the BBC adding that the killing of Arkadiusz Jó?wik in Harlow on Saturday would pose a question mark for many families in Great Britain..
News Source TheGuardianNews