The fact thousands of EU nationals across Tayside and Fife have their future in the UK still in doubt has been branded a “disgrace”.
Amid calls for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, The Courier can reveal more than 10,000 people living in Tayside and Fife have not been granted permanent settled status to remain in the UK.
Out of the 9,130 EU nationals across Fife who have applied for permanent residency, more than a third – 3,890 – are either still waiting for a final decision to be made or have only been given temporary pre-settled status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the country.
More than half of the 5,580 applicants in Dundee – 2,600 people – fall into the same category, as do 2,530 of the 5,980 applicants in Perth and Kinross.
990 EU nationals living in Angus, out of the 2,770 who applied for settled status in the region, are facing similar uncertainty.
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said now is not the time to fail to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.
“With the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this.
“Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer.”
Although the Home Office has announced one-year visa extensions for certain health and care staff, the Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their campaign to give all frontline health and social care workers on the indefinite leave to remain.
Ms Chamberlain said: “Granting indefinite leave to remain is the least we could do for EU citizens who have chosen to build their lives and families here.
“They have made an amazing contribution to our culture, our economy and our public services, during these unprecedented circumstances, many of them risking their lives in front line key worker positions.”
Pointing to the contribution of EU nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine urged the government to “show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The government is protecting the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK.
“By applying to the EU settlement scheme, EU citizens living in the UK will be able to work, study and access benefits and services in the UK on at least the same basis as they do now.
“Whether someone has pre-settled status or settled status, this means they have been accepted through the scheme and have secured their rights in UK law.”
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