30,000 EU citizens given permission to stay amid ‘confusion’ over lack of proof
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Almost 30,000 EU citizens in Norfolk and Waveney hoping to stay in the UK after Brexit have been granted permission to do so, as 'confusion' continues over a lack of physical proof.
The Home Office data, which covers August 28, 2018, to December 31, 2019, shows that 28,910 applications have been concluded, with two thirds of those - 19,310 - granted settled status, and another third - 9,480 - given pre-settled status.
Settled status is equivalent to permanent residency, and can only be sought by EU citizens if they have lived in the UK continuously for five years by December 31 this year. Those who have not must apply for pre-settled status.
Roughly 120 of the concluded applications fell into the 'other outcomes' category, which can include those which have been withdrawn, refused on suitability grounds or declared void or invalid.
But the total number of applications lodged was 32,370, meaning roughly 3,460 people are yet to receive an outcome.
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Dr Marina Prentoulis, senior lecturer in media and politics at the University of East Anglia, said while the application itself was straightforward, particularly for younger people or those who could seek help, having to "prove" their right to stay in the UK after years of living here contributed to a "hostile" environment.
And she said the lack of physical documents proving settled status - it is held digitally - was problematic.
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"People don't have certainty," she said. "Emails can be forged or changed, and there is nothing to hold onto to say 'this is what I've got'. There's a lot of confusion."
The government has previously said digital status was better than a physical document, which they said could be tampered with, lost, stolen or damaged.
There are roughly 20,000 EU citizens living in Norfolk who are yet to apply - according to 2018/19 government figures, there were roughly 52,000 people from the European Union living in Norfolk and Suffolk Coastal.
The majority - 13,000 each - are at home in Breckland and Norwich. A figure was not recorded for Waveney.
The largest number of applications has so far been made in Norwich - 7,170 - King's Lynn - 6,720 - and Breckland - 6,480. And the majority of applications have been made by people from Lithuania, 6,690, followed by Poland, 5,550, Portugal, 4,930, and Romania, 4,000.
Brandon Lewis, security minister and MP for Great Yarmouth, said EU citizens are an "integral part of our society, culture and community".