Poles and Romanians have made the highest number of applications of EU nationals for settled status in the UK which gives them the right to stay indefinitely in Britain.
Some 773,840 Poles and 670,600 Romanians, a total of 1.44 million, have applied for settled status. Next comes Italians (401,800), Portuguese (306,350) and Spanish (246,600), according to the 3Million group which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens who have made the UK their home.
As of September 2020, 3.9 million applications have been processed with 56 percent granted settled status.
Forty-two percent were granted pre-settled status and two percent of applications were withdrawn, rejected or found invalid.
More than a third of the 17,000 individuals rejected were from Romania, which has one of the lowest GDPs per capita among EU member states, AFP reported.
Most EU citizens settled in the UK will retain their rights to live and work in the country after Brexit, but on January 1 a two-tiered system comes into force that may exclude thousands.
The right of EU citizens to move to and settle in Britain without a visa will cease to exist on January 1, when Britain no longer has to abide by the bloc’s rules.
EU citizens who have been living in the UK for less than five years have to apply for pre-settled residency status to allow them to live, study and work as well as claim healthcare and benefits.
Those who have lived in the country for more than five years can apply for settled status, which gives recipients the right to stay indefinitely.
One of the main arguments made by pro-Brexit campaigners before Britain’s 2016 referendum was that leaving the EU would stop the arrival of migrants from poorer EU countries.
The immigration changes at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 also include a rejection of EU citizens who have been jailed for more than a year.
EU citizens as well as those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland living in the EU have until June 30 2021 to apply for settled status.
There are fears the changes could see the elderly in care homes, vulnerable children and other people who are difficult to contact or unaware of the deadline slip through the cracks.
Those who arrive after January 1 will require visas to work, study, rent a house or gain access to public health.
A new, stricter points-based immigration system will give preferential treatment to more qualified foreign workers.