Surge in number of EU nationals from the Highlands seeking to stay in the UK after Brexit
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More than 8000 European Union citizens living in the Highlands have applied for settled status within the UK, according to Home Office figures.
Settled status grants EU nationals and family members who have spent five years in the UK the same rights as British citizens after Brexit.
Those include equal rights on healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.
The figure was welcomed by Highland Community Planning Partnership (HCPP), the body which brings together public agencies and other organisations to work collaboratively on behalf of people in the Highlands.
HCPP’s chair councillor Alasdair Christie said: “We welcome each and every EU citizen who has already applied for EU settled status and encourage those who are yet to apply to do so before the deadline.
“EU citizens have made a positive contribution to the Highland area and we welcome the fact that so many have chosen to remain here.
“We want you to stay, prosper, raise your families and be part of all that Highland has to offer.”
The Home Office statistics show that 8,610 EU citizens in Highland have applied for EU settled status up until the end of September 2020.
This is a rise of 670 since the last quarterly figure of 7,940 which related to the end of June 2020.
The application process is relatively straightforward, with applicants having to provide relevant details through an app
The Home Office then makes a decision on whether to grant settled status or pre-settled status for those resident in the UK less than five years.
Both allow the applicant the same rights.
David Oxley, director of business growth at HIE, said: “While it is not possible to put an accurate figure on the numbers of EU nationals living in Highland, a high percentage work in the Highlands and Islands in permanent staff roles.
“Many are employed mainly by larger firms and in the tourism and food and drink industries.
“We are encouraged that so many have chosen to remain and would urge others to do so before the deadline.”
Further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eu-settlement-scheme-quarterly-statistics-september-2020
The EU Settlement Scheme was put in place as a consequence of the UK leaving the EU.
EU Citizens, including EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members - including children - to apply to the scheme in order to stay in the UK after Brexit.
EU Citizens have until June 30 next year to apply or December 31 this year in the event of a no deal Brexit.