The Home Office hopes to discourage EU nationals from applying for UK residency in an attempt to avoid a flood of applications ahead of Brexit.
The application for UK residency is 85 pages long.
“You do not need to do anything as a result of Article 50 being triggered,” guidance on the Home Office website reads. “There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU.”
The updated advice was initially sent via email to immigration professionals, before it went live on the Home Office website.
EU nationals who want confirmation of their UK residence status are being told to “sign up for email alerts,” rather than apply for confirmation documents.
“These email updates will let you know about developments that might affect you, including the steps that you may need to take to confirm your status in the UK after we leave the EU,” according to the Home Office website.
The message is an attempt by the Home Office “to calm people down and allay their fears that they need documentation,” Nick Rollason, partner and head of business immigration at law firm Kingsley Napley told the Financial Times.
An estimated 3m EU citizens currently live in the UK.
The Home Office measures are not welcomed by many of them, according to immigration experts.
“The UK’s government’s belated attempt to dissuade EU nationals from applying for documents confirming their lawful status in the UK is not going down well with the majority of our clients,” Nichola Carter, a partner at immigration specialists Carter Thomas Solicitors told Verdict.
“EU nationals have been on an emotional rollercoaster since the referendum because of the government’s refusal to provide certainty as to their futures. The Home Office refuses to grant applications for residency documents in their thousands and these documents are a mandatory requirement where the individual intends to become a British national or is an extended family member.” she added.
According to Home Office figures, more than 92,000 permanent residence applications were received from EU nationals in 2016.
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Over 100,000 applications are expected over the course of 2017.
“This new guidance does nothing to end the confusion and limbo that EEA nationals find themselves in,” Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice, a UK-based organisation set up to improve migrant representation, told Verdict. “If the government wish to reduce their paperwork, they should issue a cast-iron guarantee that the rights Europeans were granted on arrival will be automatically retained after Brexit without forcing anyone to jump through hoops.”
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