Home Secretary Priti Patel speaking at the Police Superintendents' Association Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday September 9, 2019. See PA story POLICE Superintendents. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been warned the EU Settlement Scheme is ‘fundamentally flawed’ (Picture: PA)

More than 1.5 million people have applied to remain in the UK after Brexit under the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

Home Office figures released today show 299,000 people from the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland submitted applications in August.

This took took the total number of submissions at the end of last month to 1,339,600 – but the government department says internal figures show the figure has passed 1.5 million.

The government has estimated between 3.5 million and 4.1 million EEA citizens could be eligible to apply before the deadline at the end of 2020.

If the UK does manage to leave with a deal, the deadline will be 30 June 2021.

Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘We’ve been crystal clear – EU citizens are our friends and neighbours, and we want them to stay in the UK. I am delighted that over 1.5 million people have already applied.’

A French customs officer prepares to control passeports at a customs checkpoint on September 12, 2019 in Ouistreham harbour, northwestern France. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
Between 3.5 million and 4.1 million are thought to be eligible (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Out of the 199,300 applications concluded during August, 57 per cent were granted settled status and 43 per cent pre-settled status – for those with fewer than five years’ continuous residence in the UK.

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Just one application was refused on ‘suitability grounds’ during the course of the month.

The figures mean that the total number of concluded applications has reached 1,151,000, with 62 per cent having been awarded settled status and 37 per cent pre-settled status.

The nationalities with the highest numbers of applications have been Poland with 240,300, followed by Romania with 187,600 and Italy with 150,800.

The majority of applications have come from England with 1,228,300, with 67,800 from Scotland, 20,600 from Wales and 19,100 from Northern Ireland.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the NLV Pharos, a lighthouse tender moored on the river Thames, to mark London International Shipping Week in London, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. The British government insisted Thursday that its forecast of food and medicine shortages, gridlock at ports and riots in the streets after a no-deal Brexit is an avoidable worst-case scenario, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied misleading Queen Elizabeth II about his reasons for suspending Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool photo via AP)
Boris Johnson has been told to ‘stop faffing about’ with the rights of EU citizens (Picture: AFP)

The scheme which went fully live in March has not been without its hiccups.

Last month Boris Johnson was told to ‘stop faffing about’ and guarantee the rights of European citizens in the UK after Brexit.

The call came from Conservative Party MP Alberto Costa who warned Home Secretary Priti Patel the scheme is ‘fundamentally flawed’ and is not underpinned by an act of Parliament.

He called for a new Immigration Bill to come into force after a no-deal Brexit because he said the current scheme ‘isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’ and gives ‘no legal guarantee’.

But the Home Office insisted that by the end of June, not a single person who applied had been refused the status for which they applied.

A spokesperson added: ‘Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered, and declining, the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status.’

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: Newly appointed Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel is interviewed outside the Home Office on July 24, 2019 in London, England. Boris Johnson took the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland this afternoon and immediately began appointing new Cabinet Ministers. Former Foreign secretary and leadership rival Jeremy Hunt returns to the back benches, along with Liam Fox, Jeremy Wright, Penny Mordaunt and Karen Bradley. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Ms Patel made a U-turn on her announcement that free movement would end on October 31 (Picture: Getty Images)

A Home Office radio advert was banned in August for confusing people about what they would need to apply for settled status.

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The advert heard in April said: ‘It is free and all you need is your passport or ID card and to complete an online form.’

But in 27 per cent of decided cases, applicants were told they needed other documents in addition to their passport or ID card.

Last month Boris Johnson and Ms Patel were criticised for a ‘reckless’ overnight change in which would see freedom of movement for EU nationals in the UK end as soon as the country leaves the bloc.

Opposition leaders, campaigners and business leaders called for clarity on details which were still under development by Ms Patel.

They said it would be ‘impossible’ to know who has the legal right to come into the country and who doesn’t.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Border Force check the passports of passengers arriving at Gatwick Airport on May 28, 2014 in London, England. Border Force is the law enforcement command within the Home Office responsible for the security of the UK border by enforcing immigration and customs controls on people and goods entering the UK. Border Force officers work at 140 sea and airports across the UK and overseas. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
The government was warned the scheme was ‘blighted by technical issues’ (Picture: Getty Images)

It was a dramatic departure from Theresa May’s plan to extend freedom of movement to 2021 while alternative arrangements are made.

Ministers were warned they could face ‘another Windrush’ – the scandal in which thousands of mainly elderly Commonwealth immigrants were wrongly detained and, in dozens of cases, deported.

Ms Patel was forced to scrap the plan, acknowledging that it could land the government in court because EU law continues to apply until it is repealed.

In May, a report by the cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee says the EU Settlement Scheme had been ‘blighted by technical issues’.

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The committee said some applicants ‘struggle to navigate’ the scheme’s online system without help from the Home Office.

They said there were ‘too many gaps and ambiguities’ in government guidance and said some might fail to secure their residency because they wont be aware the scheme applies to them.

Others might not have enough evidence to improve their entitlement, the report said.

The Home Office disagreed with the findings and insisted the scheme was performing well.

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