Britain Receives Over 6M Applications from EU Citizens Seeking to Remain in U.K. After Brexit

Britain received over 6 million applications by the June 30 deadline from European Union citizens looking to stay in the post-Brexit U.K. Of the 6.02 million who submitted applications for the EU Settlement Scheme, 400,000 were submitted in the last month, Britain's Home Office said in a statement.

"Having more than 6 million applications to the scheme is an unprecedented achievement and I am delighted that we have secured the rights of so many EU citizens—our friends, [neighbors] and family members," Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

Of the applicants, 570,000 are still awaiting approval, but the Home Office said their rights to stay in the U.K. are preserved during the process. Those who applied before June 30 were issued certifications that can be used in situations where their immigration status needs to be authorized, the Associated Press reported.

The Home Office said that there will be an "indefinite scope" for those who did not submit by the deadline but still plan to apply.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Brexit Protestors
Britain received over 6 million applications by the June 30 deadline from European Union citizens looking to stay in the post-Brexit U.K. Above, pro-Europe protesters demonstrate against Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament in London on January 8, 2020. Matt Dunham/AP Photo

The scheme was introduced in March 2019 as part of the U.K.'s plans to leave the EU. One of the main impacts of Brexit was the end of freedom of movement, whereby anyone in any EU state can live and work anywhere else within the bloc, which numbers 27 countries after the U.K.'s departure.

Under the scheme, EU citizens in the country will be guaranteed their rights, including access to benefits and healthcare, in the U.K. Any EU citizen who hasn't applied could now potentially lose their rights or even be subject to deportation.

Similar schemes have been in place in the EU with regard to the 1 million or so British citizens who live within the bloc. Those applying for post-Brexit residency permits in France also faced a deadline on Wednesday.

One key concern is that the immigration policy could leave a disastrous legacy similar to Britain's "Windrush" scandal, when many people from the Caribbean who legally settled in the U.K. decades ago were wrongly caught up in tough new government rules to crack down on illegal immigration.

Many in the "Windrush generation"—named after the ship that carried the first post-war migrants from the West Indies—lost their homes and jobs or were even deported simply because they couldn't produce paperwork proving their residency rights.

Brexit Trade Deal
Britain received over 6 million applications by the June 30 deadline from European Union citizens looking to stay in the post-Brexit U.K. Above, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson signs a page of the Brexit trade deal with the EU in number 10 Downing Street on December 30, 2020, in London. Leon Neal/Getty Images