Tens of thousands of EU citizens are at risk of ending up without staying rights.

Tens of thousands of citizens could end up without any legal status after the UK leaves the EU, which would cause problems on a “far bigger scale” than the Windrush scandal according to legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Chai Patel.

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is a process for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals in the UK to obtain a UK immigration status as the country prepares to leave the EU.

While the EUSS seems to be a straightforward process where applicants only need to send in some official documents to the Home Office, Barbara Drozdowicz says the process is far from simple. Talking with Raven News, the CEO of the East European Resource Centre said the scheme has some “serious flaws.”

She said that a “large number” of migrants do not have smartphones or a connection to the internet at all, often for financial reasons, which is a huge issue as the EUSS is completely digital.

“The people who do possess smartphones often only use them for calls and texts, as their jobs do not require internet access,” she said.

Through her work of assisting hundreds of vulnerable EU migrants to apply for the EUSS, she identified that some citizens are not even aware of the necessity to apply for the scheme.

“Many people feel like they do not need to apply to the scheme because they have lived in the UK for more than a decade” she added.

A report from British Future, an independent think-tank that addresses “people’s fears and hopes identity and migration” states similar issues to the ones Barbara Drozdowicz mentioned.

The report states that “up to 1 million people may be at risk of having incorrect or no information about the EU Settlement Scheme”.

Children of EU citizens who might believe that their offspring is covered by their own documentation and EU citizens with a Permanent Residence who do not know that they need to re-apply for settled status are especially at risk of ending up without any legal status.

Already 70,000 children of an approximate 900,000 European minors in the UK have not received permanent staying rights.

Director of Communications of British Future, Steve Ballinger, said that while the scheme should work “simply and efficiently for most people”, the sheer scale of the process means that the “stakes are particularly high.”

With an estimated 3.5 million EU citizens required to register by 1 July 2021, the Home Office would have to register 5,600 people every working day.

Ballinger added: “Even if 5% of eligible applicants struggle to apply or are rejected, this would adequate to 175,000 people living in the UK without status”.