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I am concerned that many European citizens living and working in Fife are at risk of losing their rights to stay in the Kingdom if they do not apply for the European Union Settlement Scheme in time.

Set up by the UK Government following the Brexit referendum, the scheme requires EU, EEA and EFTA citizens currently living in the UK to apply for settled or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021. Those who do not apply could lose the right to work in the UK, use the NHS for free, enrol in education and access benefits.

Last month a report from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants shows that 1 in 3 care workers surveyed online did not know that there was a deadline to apply for settled status or know when it was, 1 in 3 care workers surveyed in person had not heard about the settlement scheme before the survey, and 1 in 7 care workers surveyed online did not know what the EU Settlement Scheme was.

Local advice and support organisation Fife Migrants Forum has said they are concerned that many European citizens living in Fife are not aware of the scheme or the impact of failing to register. Their trained caseworkers can help Fifers through the application process and provide all the support and advice needed. Caseworker Colm Wilson said:

“There are many issues but among the most worrying are the number of older people who have been here for many years and think because they have got 'leave to remain' many years ago they are ok, when for some this is not the case. Some of these people are now living in care homes, where there are also many carers working who have not applied for settled status.

“We are worried because we are finding that this status is becoming a prerequisite to everything, such as getting a job or renting a house.”

Social care workers across the UK have played an invaluable role as we navigate through the coronavirus pandemic and we all recognise their huge contribution – and that includes over 100,000 care workers from the EU. I’m concerned that a significant number of them don’t know about the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme - and many more don’t know they need to apply by the end of June. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

This could see thousands of EU care workers, and many more EU nationals, losing their rights to remain here overnight on July 1st. This could have serious consequences for the care sector, as well as on the livelihoods of EU nationals who have made Scotland their home.

The SNP has been calling for the UK Government extend the rights of EU nationals in the UK automatically, or at the very least to cancel the June deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme. As the Tories are showing no signs of seeing sense on this I would urge all EU citizens living in Fife to apply for settled status as soon as possible, to confirm your right to stay here in Scotland.

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