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  1. ITV Report

'We never expected this' - EU nationals confused and frustrated by Brexit application process

Aga Kowalska came to the UK from Poland 13 years ago Photo: ITV News

European citizens in the West Country have told ITV News the process of applying to stay here after Brexit has left them feeling confused and frustrated.

The government is piloting a mobile application for Europeans to gain 'settled status' once the UK leaves the EU.

But problems have been reported with the app, and campaigners say the process could have been made easier.

Aga and her husband must apply to stay in the country after Brexit Credit: ITV News

I have been in England for 13 and a half years, my husband for almost 13 years, we've got two kids, they've both got British passports, we've always lived here, always worked here. So as far as I'm concerned I feel we're established members of the community so we would expect to be treated like anyone else. We thought we would never have to go through any process ever again to prove our entitlement to anything. We thought that after so many years we would be just living the way we were.

– Aga Kowalska, originally from Poland now living in Devon
The app is still in testing phase and will be rolled out at the end of March Credit: ITV News

The Government is facing growing criticism due to problems with the technology. The app is still in testing mode and only available on Android devices, not on iPhones. Campaigners say this is making things unnecessarily difficult.

Maike Bohn founded Bristol-based campaign group 'the3million' Credit: ITV News

Nobody anticipated the complexity. However it was in the Home Office and in the Government's gift to make this easier for EU citizens. Instead of a simple registration where you present your name, address, ID to a local council office, we now have an application process with an untested IT system behind it, and conditions so people can be refused this status and the consequences can be disastrous. So it could have been made easier.

– Maike Bohn, the3million

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The Home Office says it is only during this current phase of testing that people need to use the 'Identity Document Check' app, which is only available on Android phones, to verify their identity.

When the scheme is fully live at the end of March, it will be rolled out to all devices and computers.

The Home Office says the settlement scheme is proving successful Credit: ITV News

The EU Settlement Scheme is currently in a voluntary test phase but more than 150,000 individuals have applied so far. We have made it as simple as possible for EU citizens to get the status they need. They will only need to complete three key steps - prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions. EU citizens can apply 24 hours a day using any laptop, tablet or mobile device. When the scheme is fully live at the end of March, the app will be just one of several ways to verify a person’s identity, including by post.

– Home Office spokesman