Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart said an extension to the EU settlement scheme should have been put in place “long ago”, after applicants flooded the UK Government’s website in “exceptionally high volumes”.
The Home Office revealed it saw a “surge” in applications to its EU settlement scheme late on Wednesday night.
The government department posted online that those waiting to apply should remain on the website and promised applications would be accepted as in time, even if it was after the midnight deadline on June 30.
From Thursday, those who have not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme will become “undocumented” and will lose their previously guaranteed rights, including their rights to work and rent in the UK.
EU nationals left ‘hanging in the lurch’
Mr Stewart, who is an SNP minister, said: “It was blindingly obvious that this would happen which is why an extension to the deadline should have been put in place long ago, but the reality is we should never have had a cut off for people who have chosen to make this city and our country their home.
“The Tories tried to use EU Nationals as a bargaining chip at the start of Brexit negotiations, now they leave them hanging in the lurch because of their callousness and incompetency.
“Aberdeen has long benefited from the skills of EU Nationals living here, be that in our NHS, our energy sector or elsewhere, so to see so many people left worried by this arbitrary deadline has been painful.
“Yet again folk in Aberdeen and our wider economy is suffering because of the Tories’ obsession with Brexit at any cost – it’s high time we left Westminster behind.”
A Scottish Government plea to extend the deadline for applications from European citizens wishing to remain in the UK post-Brexit was rejected by Westminster.
We are seeing exceptionally high volumes of applications to the EU #SettlementScheme. If you are on the website waiting to apply, please continue. Your application will be accepted as in time, even if it is submitted after midnight.
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) June 30, 2021
We previously revealed that EU nationals will be given 28 days to apply for settled status if they are “discovered by Immigration Enforcement without the correct documentation.
‘Surge in applications’
A Home Office spokesman said the EU Settlement Scheme has been an “overwhelming success”, with more than 5 million grants of status.
He added: “EU citizens who have submitted a valid application by June 30 will have their rights protected in law and will be issued with a certificate of application, which can be presented to employers and landlords and verified by our checking service.
“As we approached the deadline we saw a surge in applications. To ensure everyone who was waiting could make an in-time application we will be accepting all applications submitted online overnight on June 30/July 1, and paper applications posted before the deadline.”