More than a quarter of EU citizens are having their applications for permanent residency in the UK rejected since the UK voted to leave the EU, according to new analysis of the government’s migration data.
If the government was to require all EU citizens to apply for residency, the refusal rate could mean 800,000 EU citizens are left without certainty as to whether they can stay in the UK post-Brexit, according to the research.
In the last two quarters of 2016, more than 800 EU citizens had their permanent residency requests refused with a further 5,500 declared invalid, a rejection rate of around 28%, analysis by the Liberal Democrats found. To qualify, EU nationals need five years of continued residence in the UK.
The day that Theresa May triggers article 50 next month is reported to be the most likely cut-off date for when EU citizens will no longer have the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the prime minister prepared to guarantee that those here before that date will be protected as long as UK citizens in Europe have reciprocal rights.
Depending on how long the tussle between the Lords and the Commons goes on before the article 50 bill receives royal assent, May will still comfortably meet her self-imposed end of March deadline and is likely to trigger the formal two-year process for leaving the EU by about 20 March.
Former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith told the Telegraph the statement would mean she “commands the high ground”. It is thought that the government could be at risk of legal challenge if May attempted to make 23 June last year, the date of the referendum, the cut-off date.
Government sources said nothing had been finalised with regards to EU citizens’ rights post-Brexit or any cut-off date, but did not deny the mooted date of the triggering of article 50 was a possibility.