Wales

EU citizens' 'settled status' application concerns in Wales

Tim Fox and Agata Iciek
Image caption Tim Fox has been helping Agata Iciek with her application during drop-in sessions in Wrexham

Elderly and vulnerable EU citizens in Wales are at risk of not having the right paperwork to remain after Brexit, a charity has warned.

Newport Mind is one of the groups providing support to help people obtain "settled status" across Wales.

Project worker Tim Fox said there may be "thousands" who have yet to apply and some vulnerable groups may struggle to understand the process.

The Home Office said its scheme has granted settled status to 2.8m people.

EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than five years can be given pre-settled status.

Those who have been here for more than five years can apply for settled status, if they can prove they have lived in the UK continuously.

Downing Street has previously said EU citizens will not automatically be deported if they fail to sign up to the settled scheme by the 2021 deadline.

Mr Fox is Newport Mind's project worker in north Wales, and he runs drop-in sessions in Wrexham which has large Polish and Portuguese communities.

He said the demand for help has "increased massively" since the beginning of 2020.

But figures show the number of eligible people in Wales who have yet to apply remains high, and Mr Fox said some of those were "extremely vulnerable".

Image caption Anna Buckley said some EU citizens "have already left the UK because they don't feel so stable"

"People who are quite elderly, people who live in care homes, homeless people, people where there's significant mental health conditions - all these kinds of people are going to struggle to know or understand that they have to make an application and that it's relevant to them," he said.

Self-employed Agata Iciek, who runs a tanning shop in Wrexham, has sought help to provide the right evidence before submitting her application.

She said she was "confident" she would secure settled status but believes some may find it difficult to complete the application, especially if they cannot speak English fluently and need help with translating information.

Wrexham's Polish Integration Support Centre provides free translation at the drop-in sessions.

Founder Anna Buckley describes Brexit as "an unknown subject" for some people.

"We have got lots of families who have already left the UK because they don't feel so stable," she said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "There is a wide range of support available online, over the phone and in person to help people apply and EU citizens have until 30 June 2021 to make an application.

"If anyone needs help completing and submitting their application, they should contact the EU Settlement Resolution Centre."

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