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With the fate of 3.3 million EU nationals living in the UK currently hanging in the balance, there is some good news that might offer hope to those hoping to secure their position after Brexit. According to official estimates, processing the visas for all these people would take over 47 years, so the Home Office has started piloting a scheme streamline the process.
Working with a small number of corporate clients, including PwC, the pilot allows applicants to “check in” their passports for their entire family. This streamlined process then allows applicants to have their passports checked for eligibility and returned the same day, rather than submitting them for up to six months, which would mean they couldn’t travel for the duration.
The process for applying for residency has been criticised by numerous groups, including The 3 Million, which is a grassroots organisation pushing for the rights of EU citizens in the UK. The application is 85-pages long and applicants have to provide a detailed outline of their movements in and out of the country.
This isn’t the first pilot scheme which has been brought into play in recent months. Last summer, a similar scheme allowed applicants to check their passports in online, but this was only available to individuals. The new system allows entire families to check in an entire family, which would help to speed up the process.
The Home Office has said the pilot is a “small test” and all part of their modernisation process launched before the referendum. Although it isn’t a legal requirement to apply for permanent residency, many are advising EU citizens to exercise caution, as their acquired rights might not be guaranteed after Brexit.
The Government has already been criticised for planning to use EU citizens as bargaining chips in the negotiations. There is talk that negotiating a good deal with the EU citizens settled in Europe will be the only way to ensure the British citizens settled throughout Europe are able to retain their rights.