The race to remain: Number of EU citizens applying to stay in North East after Brexit soars

The number of EU citizens applying to stay permanently in the UK has increased soared since theBrexit referendum, it can be revealed.

And it has gone up as much as SEVEN times in some parts of the North East.

Exclusive data obtained under Freedom of Information laws reveals there were 145 requests for permanent residence in Durham in the financial year 2017/18.

That compares with just 20 such requests in 2015/16.

The numbers shot up in the months after the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016.

UK Border Force officer
UK Border Force officer (Image: PA)

As long as the UK remains part of the European Union, EU citizens have the right to live and work here with few restrictions.

But that is expected to change once we leave.

The UK Government has promised that EU citizens who are already here will be welcome to stay.

But applying for residency provides an extra guarantee for people from the EU that they won’t lose the right to live in the UK.

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell said: “EU citizens living and working in the North East have faced huge uncertainty about their future in this country since the referendum, despite many of them having been here for several years and this being their home.

MP Catherine McKinnell
MP Catherine McKinnell (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

“I know just how unsettling and distressing this situation has been for so many families, and it’s frankly unacceptable that they should have been treated by our Government in this way.

“‘Clearly, many people will want certainty about their ability to continue to live in this country, to work here, or do business and the fact that they are taking the initiative to try and do this, because Ministers have been unable to provide them with the clarity they need, is unsurprising.”

Other parts of our region have also seen a surge in applications for permanent residence from EU citizens.

Newcastle saw a threefold increase from 90 applications in 2015/16 to 420 in 2016/17 and 245 in 2017/18.

In Northumberland, numbers have risen from just 10 in 2015/16 to 75 in 2016/17 and 45 in 2017/18.

An aerial view of the River Tyne and bridges
An aerial view of the River Tyne and bridges (Image: PA)

Sunderland has seen numbers increase from 20 in 2015/16 to 120 in 2016/17 and 65 in 2017/18.

There were a further 80 applications for permanent residence from EU citizens in Middlesbrough in the financial year 2016/17, which ran from April 2016 to March 2017.

Meanwhile, in Stockton the number of application has increased threefold from 15 in 2015/16 to 50 in 2017/18 with a peak of 65 in 2016/17.

Permanent residence (PR) – also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’ – is the acquisition of the right to live and work permanently in the UK.

It is different from UK citizenship because UK citizenship gives you the right to vote, a UK passport and the right to run for public office.

People can apply for PR after living in the UK for five years.

However, PR can be revoked if the person remains outside the UK for two consecutive years or if they commit a serious crime.

UK citizenship can be applied for one year after obtaining PR.

The Government has announced that EU citizens living in the UK will be eligible to stay here permanently.

EU citizens and family members who have been in the UK for five years by the end of 2020 will be able to apply for “settled status”, meaning they are free to go on living and working in the UK indefinitely.

Those who have arrived by December 31, 2020, but do not have five years’ residence, can seek to stay until they have been here five years at which point they can seek settled status.

The scheme also includes citizens of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are not part of the EU but are part of the single market.

Applications will cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for children, and be free for EU nationals who already have residency or indefinite leave to remain.

Published by

Crimson Tazvinzwa

TEACHER & MEDIA TRAINER

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