More than 100,000 people have waited for more than three months for their applications to the EU Settlement Scheme to be processed, according to official figures obtained by a think tank.
Some 102,000 EU citizens and family members, including 23,900 children, had applications outstanding for more than three months as of May 7, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said.
Applications for 13,000 people, including 650 children, had been outstanding for at least six months – while 8,000 people, including 285 children, have waited at least a year.
The figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office.
Since then, a flurry of applications ahead of the deadline on June 30 has led to a growing backlog of cases, the IPPR said.
Its new report, the EU Settlement Scheme and the hostile environment, says these delays raise concerns over the situation for those who apply after the deadline.
The Government has pledged that anyone who applies by the deadline will have their existing rights protected, subject to the decision and any appeal.
It typically takes around five working days for complete applications to be processed, but it can take longer than a month if more information is needed, and the Home Office has not committed to completing all applications by June 30.
Anyone who can show ‘reasonable grounds’ for missing the deadline can apply late, but if they do not apply by June 30 and have no other valid leave to remain they will become unlawfully present in the UK.
Late applicants could then face months waiting for their applications to be processed while being unable to start a new job, enter into a new tenancy agreement, obtain a driving licence or make a new benefit claim.
The IPPR is calling for EUSS applicants who are waiting for their application to be approved, including late applicants, to have their rights fully protected.
It also wants the Government to expand the set of people considered to have reasonable grounds to apply late, to include vulnerable people such as the elderly, those with no permanent address, those who have suffered bereavement and those living in destitution.