FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford has written an open letter to all EU nationals living in Wales urging those who have yet to apply for settled status to do so before the deadline in June.
Since 2019, EU citizens living in the UK have been able to apply for settled or pre-settled status via the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme, to enable them maintain the same rights as British citizens, after June this year.
Latest Home Office figures suggest the majority of those who need to apply have done so, but believe there are still groups, potentially including vulnerable or elderly citizens or those who have been here for many years, who may be unaware they need to apply or have concerns about doing so.
In his letter, published today in eleven languages, Mark Drakeford said:
“I am writing this open letter to you and your families to tell you that you are, and will always be, welcome in Wales.
“The contribution you make to our communities, our public services and our businesses is invaluable. I understand how hard the last few years have been for you, with all the uncertainty that Brexit has brought, and now, an ongoing pandemic which has made a difficult situation much harder to deal with.
“I want you to know that we want you to stay here, and continue to enjoy the freedom and rights that Wales, as a welcoming nation, can offer you.
“All EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 are required by the UK Government to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, to secure their status to continue to live and work here. This does not apply to Irish citizens.
“The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. This date is approaching fast.
“We know there are people who haven’t applied to the scheme yet. There could be many reasons for this. You may have come to live in the UK many years ago and not realise that you need to apply. You may have had children whilst living here and not know that you need to apply for yourselves and your children. You may have problems accessing a smartphone or computer. Or you may simply be overwhelmed by the process or worried that you don’t have the correct paperwork.
“Whatever your situation, the Welsh Government would like to help. We have secured specialist, independent and free support to help you though the application process. We are working with a network of legal specialists, Citizens’ Advice, and charities to make sure that there is someone you can turn to help you make your application and stay here in Wales.
“I’m urging all EU citizens who have not applied to visit our Preparing Wales website where you will find all the information you need.
“We want you stay in Wales, where you will always be welcome.”