In the last half of 2016, more than 12,800 EU citizens had their permanent residency requests rejected and a further 5,500 were declared invalid, analysis by the Liberal Democrats found. However, the Home Office said “applications can be rejected for a whole range of administrative reasons including where an application form has not being signed or failure to pay a fee.”
To qualify for UK residency, European Union citizens must live in Britain for at least five years.
A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement: “It would be wrong to draw conclusions about refusal rates from these figures, as they include applications that were invalid.” Refusal rates have not changed over the last year, Politico reported.
“European citizens resident in the UK make a vital contribution both to our economy and our society. That’s why we will be making securing their status, as well as that of British nationals in the EU, a priority as soon as we trigger Article 50 and the negotiations begin.”
The spokesperson added that European Economic Area nationals “are not required to apply to the Home Office for documentation confirming their status or their right to be here and these rights remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union.”
Curbs on new migrants
The report came as the Telegraph revealed British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce that EU citizens who move to the UK after Article 50 divorce proceedings are triggered will not have the right to stay in the UK permanently.
Those who come to Britain after Brexit negotiations formally begin, expected around March 15, may require entry visas and have access to benefits restricted, the Telegraph reported. EU citizens who currently reside in the UK will have their rights protected as long as the rights of British citizens in the EU are protected in kind.
The EU has been pushing for European citizens to move freely in the UK until the end of Brexit negotiations rather than the beginning, but British officials are worried of a potential surge in migrants until then, according to the report.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the UK “will be ending free movement as we know it.”