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Thousands of British expats may miss EU residency rights deadline

Britons living abroad have just 30 days to secure post-Brexit right to remain

Tens of thousands of Brits living in the EU are in danger of missing the deadline to secure their right to remain under an agreement made in the Brexit deal.

UK citizens living in France, Malta, Luxembourg and Latvia must apply to remain in the countries before 30 June, however, “large numbers have not applied yet”, The Times reports.

“After the UK left the EU last year the bloc divided into two groups”, the paper continues, with “14 countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal, introducing systems automatically granting post-Brexit residence rights”.  

But “the remaining 13 require British citizens to apply”, the paper adds, with the EU-UK joint committee on citizens’ rights warning that of the 298,000 Britons living in the 13 countries, only 190,000 have so far applied to remain.

The Netherlands also requires Britons to apply to remain, but has extended its deadline until 1 October. Failure to apply before the June deadline could see Brits “losing all of their basic rights and ultimately see them deported”, the Daily Express says.

Michaela Benson, a professor of public sociology at Lancaster University, told The Guardian that there is now “only a month to go before a hard deadline, after which a lot of people could lose their rights”.

“We urgently need more communication – from the UK, the EU and member states – to get in touch, especially with hard-to-reach, vulnerable UK citizens who risk missing a vital cutoff point.”

“The ones to worry about are those who are just scraping by, perhaps in remote areas”, she added. “They are not likely to come forward of their own accord. There will also be homeless British people, sick British people, British children in care.”

“About 26,000 of France’s 150,000 Britons have not registered”, The Times reports, as well as “5,300 living in Malta, 1,700 living in Luxembourg and 800 living in Latvia”.

A joint statement released by UK and EU officials on the citizens’ rights committee on Friday said: “The UK and the EU recalled that EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in France, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands need to apply for a new residence status by June 30, 2021, in order to be protected by the withdrawal agreement.

“The UK and the EU also emphasised the importance of providing clear communications and comprehensive support to vulnerable or hard-to-reach citizens.

“Public and non-public bodies must also work to ensure that beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement are able to enjoy their rights and entitlements, particularly when accessing benefits and services and exercising their right to work, rent and study.”

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