News

‘Scotland is a better country because you are here’ - FM

Published: 23 Jun 2021 10:45

Failure to extend EU Settlement Scheme deadline ‘unacceptable’.

The UK Government is jeopardising EU citizens’ right to stay in Scotland by failing to extend the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) the First Minister has said.  

The deadline for applications is currently 30 June, but the Scottish Government has argued for this to be extended to give those who have not yet applied more time. 

A backlog of almost 350,000 applications by EU citizens who wish to stay in the UK is also still waiting to be addressed by the Home Office.

The First Minister reiterated calls to reform the EU Settlement Scheme after hearing from EU citizens in Edinburgh who received help with their applications to the scheme from two charities, and urged anyone who has not submitted their application to do so as soon as possible before the deadline. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Five years ago the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU but today we find ourselves subject to a damaging, hard Brexit.

“This will have been a particularly difficult time for EU citizens who have made Scotland their home but who have been forced by the UK Government to apply to stay here.

“They have friends, families, careers and communities that are dear to them and that they are dear to. I can barely begin to imagine the anxiety and stress they have suffered – indeed many continue to suffer – as they wait to be told whether or not their right to all of that will be removed.

“The UK Government’s refusal to listen to our call to extend the deadline is unacceptable and means all EU citizens must urgently apply for settled status if they have not already done so.

“I am hugely grateful to those providing free support to EU citizens with the application process, here at St Margaret’s House and across Scotland. To all EU citizens my message is this – ‘Scotland is a better country because you are here. You are part of us and we badly want you to stay’.”

While at St Margaret’s House, the First Minister met Virginia Zamojski and Bernadeta Żynda who have been helped by Feniks and Citizens’ Rights Project with their applications for Settled Status.

Virginia, an NHS worker, has lived in Scotland for 27 years yet her application for Settled Status is still outstanding. 

She said: “I came to Feniks for help, because I need to apply for my settled status through a special form for people without a valid form of ID. Filling it in made me very nervous. 

“I have lived in the UK since I was three. I am now an NHS key worker, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I was needed at work and could not travel to renew my passport. The German embassy was also overwhelmed. 

“Now my application for Settled Status is ongoing and I really hope everything will be sorted out in time as Scotland is my true home - I have no one in Germany.”

Bernadeta, who has lived in the UK for over 10 years and successfully applied for Settled Status with the help of Feniks, said:

“I moved to the UK over 10 years ago to join my family and look after my grandchildren upon my retirement in Poland. As I never worked in the UK, I had to provide additional proof of my residency, which was difficult as I needed to obtain official letters from the bank or other institutions and I didn't feel confident enough to contact them as my English was not good enough. 

“Dorota from Feniks showed a lot of patience and understanding and helped me gather additional evidence, which meant I successfully received my Settled Status.”

Background
UK Government must clear EU Settlement backlog - gov.scot

Scottish Government on Twitter: ""Scotland is a better country because you are here." 📅 The EU settlement scheme deadline is 30 June. Watch First Minister @NicolaSturgeon remind EU citizens to apply as soon as possible ⬇ Find support at https://t.co/8xKJEJRRx5 #StayInScotland #WeAreScotland https://t.co/UMGxJl7gYp" / Twitter
 
EUSS statistics show that at the end of May there was a backlog of around 334,500 EUSS applications, an increase of 29,500 since last month.
 
At the end of March 2021, there were 13,180 outstanding applications from Scotland.
 
As of 31 May, a total 276,600 applications have been made by EU citizens to stay in Scotland.
 
Quarterly statistics showed that as of 31 March of the then 263,220 applications in Scotland, 250,040 had been concluded – 141,220 people had been granted settled status, and 102,000 granted pre-settled status.
 
There is a lack of reliable data across the UK, including Scotland, on the exact number of EU citizens who still need to apply to the scheme to secure their status.
 
It had been previously estimated there are around 231,000 EU Citizens in Scotland - the current number of applications is higher; however, this also includes applications from non-European Economic Area national family members and eligible EEA nationals not resident in the UK, and include individuals applying for both pre-settled and settled status, and duplicate applications for other reasons.
 
For more information on the support available visit www.mygov.scot/stayinscotland
 
Citizens Advice Scotland runs a free national helpline as part of their EU Citizens' Support Service. You can get information, advice and support by calling the helpline on 0800 916 9847. More information about Brexit is available from Citizens Advice Scotland.
 
Feniks – Counselling, Personal Development and Support Services Ltd. is a charity that has supported integration and worked to improve the wellbeing of the Central Eastern European community in Edinburgh since 2007.
 
Citizens' Rights Project – Providing information, advice and support for EU citizens in Scotland is a group of third sector workers, researchers, legal experts and volunteers. They provide information, advice and support for EU citizens in Scotland.