MORE than 20,000 EU citizens in Swindon have applied to remain in the UK post Brexit, the latest figures have revealed.  

EU citizens are asked to apply by June next year in order to carry on living and working in the UK after freedom of movement with the European Union ends.

According to official data published today, more than 3,4 million applications were received by the end of March for the EU settlement scheme.

Figures show that 20,730 applications were made in Swindon up to March 31, of which 19,030 were finalised.

Of those, 11,800 were granted settled status, meaning they have a permanent right to remain in the UK.

A further 7,040 were given pre-settled status where they would need to re-apply again after living in the country for five year to gain permanent residence.

And 180 applications had other outcomes, such as being refused, withdrawn or void, or invalid.

Refusals are made on eligibility or suitability grounds.

Applications are refused when someone is a serious or persistent offender or when someone does not meet the criteria for the scheme – if they are not living in the UK or are not from one of the countries which can apply.

But it may also be when insufficient proof of residence has been provided.

In Swindon, Portuguese nationals made the most applications (7,390), followed by people from non-EEA countries (3,680) and Poland (3,350).

The news come after last month immigration experts warned gaps in Government data were making it difficult to know whether the scheme is working.

Campaigners have called for the scheme’s deadline to be extended because of delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Documents could not be accepted by post, scanning facilities and a helpline for applications had closed, and charities were unable to meet applicants needing help and advice in person during the pandemic, the Commons Home Affairs Committee heard last month.

The Home Office has since said the helpline is now back up and running.

In March, the number of applications being submitted and finalised each dropped by more than 100,000, showing the lowest monthly totals since June last year.

But Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs the scheme was a “success” and she saw no reason for an extension as there is still just over a year left to apply.

She insisted support for applicants had not stopped and the Home Office was still receiving around 2,000 applications every day.

Announcing the latest figures, immigration minister Kevin Foster described the scheme as “the biggest of its kind in British history”, adding that there was “still plenty of time left to apply”.