Nearly 5m EU applications for British residency after Brexit

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The walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, the last country to join the European Union.  - artherng /Artie | Photography 
The walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, the last country to join the European Union. - artherng /Artie | Photography

Nearly five million EU application have been received for settled status in Britain after Brexit.

Applications for permanent post-Brexit residency can continue to be made until June 30 this year but only by those living in the UK on December 31.

4.9 million applications, which is only slightly less than the population of Ireland, have applied for settled status and 4.3 million have been granted it.

"There are more EU citizens in the UK than in some member states - which is great,” the Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove told a parliamentary committee yesterday.

“It is a great advertisement for this country," Mr Gove said, “People have chosen to stay in unprecedented numbers.”

The figure, which could still increase before the deadline, is greater than the total population of seven individual EU member states.

If the group of EU citizens living in Britain were an EU member state it would be 20th out of 27 in terms of population.

Croatia, which is the latest country to join the EU, has about 4m people. Lithuania has 2.7m, and Slovenia and Latvia about 2m inhabitants, according to 2020 figures from the Eurostat agency.

Estonia has about 1.3m people, while Cyprus has 888,000 and Luxembourg and Malta weighing in with more than a half a million people.

Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said on Tuesday, "It’s an extraordinary achievement to have made more than 4.3 million grants of status to EU citizens and their family members who want to make their lives in the UK. I would urge people who are eligible to join those who have secured their status."

EU citizens can still apply for residency if they were not living in Britain by December 31, which was the last day of the transition period.

Those applications will be treated as any other from a would-be immigrant rather than the EU-specific settled status scheme.

There were an estimated 3.5m EU citizens in the UK before the Brexit referendum, although it is impossible to know the true figure because Britain has no registration or ID card system.

There are an estimated 1.5 m UK citizens living in the EU, who have also had to apply for residency rights after losing their EU citizenship, which entitled them to free movement rights.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported nearly 5m EU citizens had applied for British residency post Brexit. In fact, the figure of 5 million should have referred to the number of applications, not the number of citizens. The article has been amended to reflect this.

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