More than 7,000 EU nationals have been allowed to stay in Somerset West and Taunton district, new figures show.
The3Million, which advocates for the rights of European citizens, says it is concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people still waiting to see if they can continue to live in a post-Brexit UK.
Home Office data shows that 7,240 EU citizens had successfully applied to continue living in Somerset West and Taunton by June 30 – the deadline for new applications imposed by the government after Brexit.
In southern Somerset the figure was 8,350 and in Sedgemoor 7,640, bringing the total to over 23,000 in the three districts.
The EU Settlement Program was launched in March 2019 to regulate the immigration status of EU citizens living in the UK.
About 810 applications were submitted in the last three months of the program opening – 10% of all applications received in Somerset West and Taunton.
EU citizens with few reasonable grounds not to meet the June deadline can still apply to assert their rights.
Those who have lived in the UK for five years and meet the criteria can obtain settlement status and stay in the country indefinitely.
Others who have lived in the country for a shorter period may be granted pre-settlement status, which allows them to stay for an additional five years. They can then apply for establishment status.
Some citizens who are not from the European Economic Area may also benefit from the program, for example if they are family members of EU citizens living in the UK.
Between the start of the program and the deadline, a total of 7,480 applications were processed in Somerset West and Taunton, with 4,250 people granted settlement status and 2,990 pre-settlement status.
Approximately 240 requests were either refused, withdrawn or invalid.
The largest number of applications received came from Polish (2,520), Romanian (1,870) and Portuguese (650) nationals.
Figures are rounded to the nearest ten.
The3Million said that although millions of claims have been processed under the EU’s settlement program, nearly half a million people are still awaiting a decision.
A spokesperson said: “This backlog is unlikely to be cleared anytime soon, given the slowing pace of decision making.
“The program will also continue to receive new applications from vulnerable citizens who have passed the deadline, as well as those who move from pre-established status to resident status and join their family members.
“It is therefore crucial that the government embark on a long term plan to support all the candidates.”
The government said those who applied to the program before the June 30 deadline, but did not have a decision, have their rights protected until their application is decided.
Kevin Foster, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, said: “I am delighted that thousands more have rightly been granted status thanks to the EU’s hugely successful settlement program.
“We continue to work as quickly as possible to close applications, as well as to support people with their late applications.
“Our message remains clear. The Home Office is looking for reasons to grant the status rather than refuse. I encourage anyone who is eligible who has not yet applied to get in touch and join the millions who have already secured their rights. ”