Plight of EU nationals seeking UK residency to be investigated

The European parliament is to investigate the British government’s treatment of EU nationals living in the UK who have applied for citizenship or permanent residency since the Brexit vote.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a deputy leader of the liberal group in the parliament, told the Guardian that she intends to form a cross-party taskforce to examine cases where EU nationals have faced a “bureaucratic wall” when seeking to secure their future in the UK.

The Dutch MEP said she had taken up the cause in response to concerns EU nationals had raised with her and after learning about the plight of Monique Hawkins, a Dutch national.

Late last year the Guardian revealed that Hawkins, who has lived in the UK for 24 years, had received a letter from the Home Office advising her to “prepare to leave the country” when she failed to include the correct documentation in her application for residency. She is married to a British man with whom she has two British children.

In ‘t Veld intends to form the taskforce after Theresa May triggers article 50 and begins Brexit negotiations. She will also request that the European parliament’s committee on civil liberties, on which she sits, calls a representative of the British government to come to Brussels to account for cases where EU nationals have felt unfairly treated by the state or by British employers as a consequence of the Brexit vote.

May’s government has yet to provide EU nationals with any assurance that they will be allowed to stay in the UK after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The prime minister has said it will be an issue to be negotiated after article 50 is triggered.

In recent months the Guardian has learned that employers have been seeking guarantees of right to remain from EU nationals. Other EU nationals, such as Hawkins, have sought permanent residency because of fears for their future status.

Figures provided by the Home Office, following a question from the chair of the Commons Brexit committee, Hilary Benn, show there has been a 50% increase in the number of applicants from EU states seeking permanent residency since the Brexit vote on 23 June. The number of applications rose from 36,555 between April and June 2016 to 56,024 between July and September, according to the latest figures available.

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