The unwelcome and unwanted deadline, a consequence of Brexit that the majority of Scots oppose, can’t be wished away.
We owe it to the thousands of EU citizens who contribute so positively to our national life to make sure they are not caught out by UK immigration rules. If you know anyone who needs any encouragement or support, please can you help?
So far more than 263,220 applications have been made by EU citizens to stay in Scotland with 250,040 concluded. Of that number 141,220 people have been granted settled status, and 102,000 granted pre-settled status; 1,550 applications have been refused, 2,650 withdrawn or void and 2,620 described as invalid applications.
The Scottish Government has intensified a high-profile public information campaign to support EU citizens. An open letter by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says how much she values EU citizens' contribution and urges people to stay.
A package of support measures has been drawn up to help EU citizens stay in Scotland, including: a guide for EU citizens, a guide for their employers and a helpful factsheet.
This has been boosted with a £1 million information campaign by JustRight Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland's EU Citizens' Support Service, and the Citizens' Rights Project.
Last week, in a virtual meeting with UK Home Office Minister Chris Philp, I raised the continuing concerns of the Scottish Government. This followed an appeal by my ministerial colleague Jenny Gilruth MSP who urging the UK Government to change the scheme so that status is granted automatically, successful applicants have the option of receiving physical proof of their status, and for the removal of the five-year residency requirement for settled status.
She said: “Our message to EU citizens remains the same: this is your home, you’re welcome here and we want you to stay. I am delighted and moved that so many of our fellow Europeans, who contribute so much in so many ways to our society, wish to stay with us. However I remain deeply concerned for the remaining EU citizens who are at risk of losing their rights here – and that the deadline of 30 June is looming.
“EU citizens have long lived with unacceptable levels of uncertainty about how Brexit will affect their lives, careers and families, and the Covid pandemic has exacerbated the difficulties faced to secure their rights and their future. We have pushed hard for changes to the EUSS [EU Settlement Scheme] and, even at this late stage, we believe there is no good reason why the UK Government cannot make them.”
If you happen to know any EU resident who still has to apply to the EUSS they need to know that help is at hand from Citizens Advice Scotland. Its chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “The Citizens Advice network in Scotland is here to assist anyone, anywhere in Scotland, with their application to the EUSS. Our team of specialist advisers can be contacted on our EU Citizens Support Service helpline, 0800 916 9847.”
We can ultimately solve the Brexit residency problem by Scotland re-joining the EU as an independent member state. However, only one week remains for EU neighbours and friends to submit their settlement applications before 30 June. Please apply.