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Tens of thousands could ‘unknowingly become undocumented migrants’ in June

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Tens of thousands of EU citizens living in London could “unknowingly become undocumented migrants” in June when the EU Settlement Scheme ends, with no data on how many people are yet to apply.

The London Assembly has today written to Sadiq Khan to urge him to work with the Home Office and take action to reach EU citizens in London who have not applied for the scheme because they may be vulnerable or hard to reach.

The letter follows a meeting of the Assembly’s EU exit working group last month that discussed the lack of data on EU citizens living in the UK and the challenges that posed to the settlement scheme.

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Len Duvall, chairman of the group, today said: “The true number of EU citizens in the UK is unknown, worryingly there is no data to help understand how many EU citizens live and work in this country.

“Those working to ensure all EU citizens are contacted, especially those in hard to reach communities, about the settlement scheme are chasing their tails.

“Without having the data or knowledge as to where EU citizens work and live, reaching them is an impossible task.

“Come June 2021, there could be tens of thousands of people living in the UK without the proper documentation because the need to apply for settled status is unknown to them.

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“There must be clear guidelines as to what would be considered a good reason for missing the June 2021 deadline, as there could be thousands of late applications if EU citizens are unaware of the role they have to play in securing their right to live and work in the UK.”

At last month’s meeting, the London Assembly heard from Professor Charlotte O’Brien of the EU Rights and Brexit Hub, who highlighted some of the issues facing EU citizens “who face a cliff edge deadline” with the settlement scheme ending in the summer.

Professor O’Brien told the Assembly: “There will be people who fall off the cliff edge. There are still studies coming in suggesting, quite alarmingly, low degrees of awareness among EU nationals in certain sectors and in certain areas.”

The Assembly also heard how the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly reduced the ability of organisations to reach out to some EU nationals who may have a low degree of English literacy or technical literacy, or who may be remote or vulnerable.

Estimates had placed the number of EU citizens living in the UK at 3.7 million, but recently it was revealed that 4.5 million EU nationals have already applied for the settlement scheme.

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The deadline for citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland to apply for the scheme is June 30.

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