Britain grants more than 3.3M EU, EEA citizens right to remain in U.K.

Britain’s Home Office said Thursday more than 3.3 million European Union and European Economic Area citizens have been granted the right to stay in the country permanently after Brexit.

Brexit supporters celebrate leaving the European Union as they congregate in Parliament Square Dec. 31. The Home Office said Friday that more than 3.3 million European Union residents can remain in Britain after Brexit. Photo by Hugo Philpott/

The office said 57 percent of those people falling in that category has been granted “settled status,” the term that describes those living in Britain for five years or more. Another 39 percent were granted “pre-settled” status. It is estimated that 3 million to 3.8 million EU residents currently live in Britain.

The figures, part of an update on Britain’s EU Settled Status Scheme, suggest that many of those residents want to remain in the country regardless of Brexit. The Home Office said 900 EU and EEA residents have been refused settled status. Another 28,900 withdrew or voided their applications.

“Of the total refusals, 99 percent were refused on eligibility grounds and 1 percent were refused on suitability grounds,” the Home Office said in a statement. “In February 2020, the Home Office began refusing EU Settlement Scheme applications on eligibility grounds.”

Suitability grounds involve serious or persistent criminality, officials said.

“Many of these eligibility refusals relate to cases that had been under consideration for several months and, in most cases, subject to repeated unsuccessful attempts to obtain missing evidence or information from the applicant,” the statement said.

ByClyde Hughes