200,000 EU citizens in West Midlands apply to stay

More than 200,000 EU citizens living in the West Midlands have signed up to a scheme which aims to make it easier for them to stay after Brexit.

Thousands have joined the EU Settlement Scheme
Thousands have joined the EU Settlement Scheme

Applications have flooded in for the EU Settlement Scheme from people anxious to ensure they will be able to remain in the UK.

They include 18,020 from Wolverhampton, 20,080 from Sandwell and 57,340 from Birmingham.

The top four nationalities in the West Midlands requesting to stay are Polish (42,990), Romanian (42,310), Italian (25,320) and Portuguese (10,500).

The Home Office, which published the figures, says the EU Settlement Scheme is "designed to make it straightforward for EU citizens and their family members to stay after the UK leaves the EU – guaranteeing their rights in UK law".

To apply they must prove their identity, show that they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 and is now in a transition period until the end of 2020.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis said: “I’m delighted that there have been more than 215,000 applications to the EU Settlement Scheme from people living in the West Midlands.

“EU citizens are an integral part of our society, culture and community and the scheme guarantees their rights in UK law.

“I encourage all EU citizens in the West Midlands yet to apply to do so.”

There have been more than three million applications to the scheme in total less than a year since it was fully launched to the public.

There are more than 1,500 Home Office staff working on the EU Settlement Scheme with 250 based in Liverpool at the Settlement Resolution Centre supporting applicants with any questions about the scheme or who need help applying.

Pam Gill, deputy chief executive of the Refugee & Migrant Centre, Birmingham & Black Country, said: "We’ve helped almost 4,000 people to apply so far, including Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Dutch nationals.

“Our staff are knowledgeable, experienced, accredited and between them they speak all the EU languages. Many of the people we have helped have gone on to use our other services to get employment and housing related support.

“We continue to encourage EU citizens in our Birmingham and Black Country location to contact us if they need support with their applications.”

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