68,000 EU migrants apply to stay in region despite Brexit
Nearly 70,000 EU nationals have successfully applied to continue living in the Black Country after Brexit, according to official figures.
Home Office figures reveal that by the end of September 2020, 68,210 people successfully applied to continue living in the four boroughs, including 14,010 Poles, 12,830 Italians and 12,710 Romanians.
European Union nationals wishing to continue living in the UK must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme by June 30.
Those who have lived in the UK for five years and meet the criteria can receive settled status and remain in the country indefinitely, while those living here for less time can receive pre-settled status, which allows them to remain for a further five years.
Between August 2018 and September 2020 there were 25,940 successful applications in Sandwell, 22,600 in Wolverhampton, 13,310 in Walsall and 6,360 in Dudley.
Just over 2,000 applications were either refused, withdrawn, or invalid, while the region also received 8,170 applications from people from outside the European Economic Area who qualify for the scheme, including family members of EU citizens living in the UK.
A total of 5,360 EU nationals have been allowed to remain in Stafford, South Staffordshire and Cannock Chase.
Across the UK, 3.9 million applications have been made under the scheme since it was launched – 56 per cent of applicants received settled status, 41.6 per cent pre-settled status and 0.4 per cent were refused.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said new rules requiring immigrants to meet a £25,400 salary threshold may pose issues for some sectors, although foreign graduates will be allowed to work after they study.
He said: “Despite the additional bureaucratic processes and visa fees, EU migration will continue for graduate professionals in areas like law, science and academia.
“The Government has committed to allowing the NHS to recruit the staff it needs – but has not done the same for social care.
“The most significant impacts are likely to be in social care and hospitality, for roles paying below those salary bands.”
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory, said EU immigration had fallen “substantially” since the 2016 referendum,
“The Government has introduced a system that is designed to be easy for EU citizens to apply to, securing their residence rights in the UK,” she added.
“For most EU citizens, the process will be very straightforward, but there is a strong risk that some people will fall through the cracks – particularly among vulnerable groups such as victims of abuse and exploitation.”