LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain said on Friday (July 2) it had received 6 million applications to its settlement scheme for European Union (EU) nationals before a June 30 deadline passed, including a surge of more than 400,000 in the last month.
After completing its exit from the EU late last year, Britain has started bringing in a new immigration system. EU citizens who can prove they were living in Britain before Dec 31 last year will retain the right to work, study and access benefits.
The data showed 6.02 million applications had been received by June 30, of which 5.45 million had been concluded.
"I am delighted that we have secured the rights of so many EU citizens - our friends, neighbours and family members," interior minister Priti Patel said.
Of those concluded applications, 4 per cent have either been refused, withdrawn or invalid. The rest were either accepted as settled or 'pre-settled', meaning residency rights were retained.
A high profile publicity campaign to remind people to apply reflected concerns that some eligible residents might have been unaware of the scheme, or lacked the ability to submit an application.
The number of those who failed to apply in time is uncertain, as are full details how the government will handle their cases.
Citizens will be given a formal 28-day notice if they fail to apply for settled status, but after that they will not be eligible for work, benefits and will lose the right to services such as free non-urgent healthcare.
The government has repeatedly said it will look to grant status, rather than look for reasons to refuse it to EU citizens, and adds that the 28-day notice should not be seen as a point when individuals are liable to be removed from Britain.