EU citizens could be deported after Brexit if they have not applied for settled status by the end of 2020, a minister has warned.
Brandon Lewis, of the Home Office, told German newspaper Die Welt: “We will apply the rules.”
But those with “reasonable grounds” for missing the date will be granted an extension.
Up to two million more still need to apply before the deadline.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said the Government was determined to prove “our worst fears correct” over concerns of another Windrush scandal.
The Sun Says
WILL we deport EU citizens who miss the deadline to apply for settled status? No.
We have reportedly only booted out six per cent of ILLEGAL migrants who sneakily crossed the Channel since last December.
The idea we would expel those living and working here legally is laughable as well as repugnant.
So why is Security Minister Brandon Lewis speculating that we will? It sends the wrong signal to 3.6million citizens who are, as the Home Office says, “our friends, family and neighbours”.
It IS important, though, that they cement their status via the Government scheme, as two million already have.
“Threats by ministers that EU nationals could be deported are a complete breach of all the assurances that the government has made,” the Labour MP added.
“This will be deeply troubling to people who have come here in good faith and who contribute so much to our society.”
Maike Bohn, a spokeswoman for campaign group the3million, said the organisation, representing EU citizens, had pressed the Government “for years” to acknowledge what would happen to those who have not acquired the status in 2021.
“Today, after much wait, it is confirmed that hundreds and thousands of people will be punished with the threat of removal from their home. This is no way to treat people, let alone what was promised,” she said.
A statement from a Home Office spokesman said: “We have received two million applications and are looking for reasons to grant status, not refuse, and EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to apply.
“We’ve always been clear that where they have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline, they’ll be given a further opportunity to apply.”