Landlords and employers will likely discriminate against EU citizens who do not complete their Brexit registration paperwork in time, Sadiq Khan has warned.
The mayor of London invoked the spectre of the Windrush scandal on Monday in a plea urging Europeans to sign up to the government’s settlement scheme before Christmas to avoid complications.
Though anyone from the EU living in the UK before 31 December will have the right to work here, ministers have not yet explained how people will be able to prove this is the case if they register in the new year.
“Today I’m making a direct appeal to every European Londoner – make sure that you and all your eligible family and friends have applied to the settlement scheme before Christmas,” he said.
“If not, I fear you could be a victim of discrimination – from a landlord, a potential employer or anyone else who fails to distinguish between your rights and those of people arriving under the tougher immigration rules starting from January.
“More still needs to be done at all levels of government to ensure everyone affected has the guidance and support they need to prove their right to live, work and study in the UK. We can’t risk any more people falling victim to the hostile environment that caused devastation for some in the Windrush generation.”
It comes as the latest figures show over 60,000 outstanding applications for the EU Settlement Scheme are being processed in London.
A further 603,000 people who have already completed their applications have also only been granted “pre-settled status” by the Home Office, meaning they will have to upgrade their status later or lose their right to work.
“I’m pleased that so many European Londoners have already applied to the EU settlement scheme, but with a month to go until the end of the transition period time is now running out,” Mr Khan said.
“EU citizens living in London are an integral part of our city. They’re our friends, our families, our neighbours and our colleagues, and like everyone else many have faced an extraordinary difficult year dealing with Covid-19.”
Campaigners have previously warned that the scheme is likely to leave thousands of people in undocumented limbo when they forget to apply for the scheme.
The registration is required whether or not the UK and EU sign a deal in ongoing talks.
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It comes as Priti Patel, the home secretary, celebrated the end of free movement for British and EU citizens.
“This government promised to end free movement, to take back control of our borders and to introduce a new points-based immigration system. Today, we have delivered on that promise,” she said, announcing the launch of a new “points-based system” for immigration.
Ms Patel claimed the system would be “simple, effective and flexible” and “ensure employers can recruit the skilled workers they need”.
People coming to the UK legally from now on will have to pay an application fee ranging from £610 to £1,408, an extra healthcare surcharge of £624 per year, and have a further £1,270 in the bank.
They will need to be earning a salary of £25,600 per year or more – making it difficult for many people on lower incomes to move to Britain.