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  1. ITV Report

EU national who has lived in UK for twenty years was 'denied' settled status

An EU citizen who has lived in the UK for twenty years says she was "denied" permanent residency after applying to the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

More than 1.3 million people have applied to remain in the UK after Brexit, through the scheme, the Home Office has said.

The total number of concluded applications has now reached 1,151,000, with 62% having been awarded settled status and 37% pre-settled status.

Settled status is effectively permanent residency and the government say it is given to those who have lived in the UK continuously for longer than five years.

But that claim isn't entirely true. Bina Gayadien from Holland, has lived in the UK for 20 years and was initially only given pre-settled status, meaning would have leave to remain for five years before having to apply again.

She said: "To be honest I initially made a joke about it because it was so unbelievable that I must have done something wrong in my application.

"That was my first reaction and then one of sadness and thinking 'no, it is true, it is real, computer says no' - I just could not believe that that it was happening to me."

Ms Gayadien was eventually given permanent settled status after complaining to the Home Office.

People with less than five years’ continuous residence in the UK are given pre-settled status - the right to remain in the UK for a period of five years.

The Home Office says "nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status."

Alexandra Bulat from the 3 Million Group, the largest campaign organisation for EU citizens in the UK, says offering pre-settled status means that in five years from now there will be a "whole category of people who'll have to apply for indefinite leave to remain".

Alexandra Bulat from the 3 Million Group says offering pre-settled status presents a 'time-bomb' for the next government. Credit: ITV News

She said: "Pre-settled status is a limited leave to remain, so it only offers you the right to live in the UK for a period of five years, there's a deadline to it, so in a way it's a time bomb for the next government."

According to the official August figures, 199,300 applications were concluded during the month, with 57% being granted settled status and 43% pre-settled status.

The government claims that only one application has been rejected so far, on “suitability grounds”, but Ms Gayadien says that isn't strictly true

"It depends what you see as being denied," she said.

"If you ask for something - settled status - and you get something else then technically that is a denial."

She added: "Saying that everybody gets something doesn't mean they get what they ask for and the system is definitely set up to give something to everybody but it's certainly not what people set out to get."

In an exclusive interview with Home Office minister Brandon Lewis, ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener suggested granting pre-settled status was a "cynical" way to avoid rejecting large numbers of people.

Mr Lewis bit back, saying "no, actually, that's quite wrong".

He defended the scheme saying the government is "doing exactly what we said we would, which is giving people who've been here five years or more settled status".

He added: "For people who have not yet been here five years but are here before we leave the EU, they get to set the clock running.

"They get their rights protected, and as I said, when they get to five years, that converts to settled status and their rights will be protected for the long term."

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.