According to the British Home Office, until December 31, 436,650 applications had been made by Portuguese citizens.

Of the 419,910 applications processed, 236,580 were granted permanent status, 158,370 provisional status, but 24,850 were rejected, invalidated or void.

Permanent status (settled status) is granted after five years of continuous residence in the country, but those who have been there for a shorter period of time receive provisional status (pre-settled status) until they complete the necessary time.

The report also indicates that 43,710 of the Portuguese applications were repeated, either to obtain authorisation or to move from provisional to permanent status.

Of the repeated Portuguese applications, 2,510 were rejected and 390 are awaiting a response.

The real number?

Academic researcher Kuba Jablonowski said it is difficult to understand the actual number of people in the EU Settlement Scheme [EU Settlement Scheme, EUSS] because of the way the process is being done.

"As the Ministry of the Interior does not assign a unique identifier to candidates, the analysis of candidate numbers needs to be based on probabilistic methods and to navigate through the various registered statutes. And the system is getting more and more complex", he told Lusa agency.

Jablonowski, who works on a project on the EUSS for the University of Exeter, said he raised the issue in October 2019, and that "it could have been fixed [because] there were few repeat applications in the system, but now it's too late."

Another problem is that "no one is keeping track of how many people with EUSS status are still in the UK", as many will have left the country in the meantime.

The EUSS was opened in 2019 following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union to guarantee residence status to EU citizens, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein and their close family members from third countries.

In total, the British Home Office has so far received almost 6.4 million applications, of which there were 333,200 after the June 30 deadline, with 328,000 unfinished.

The UK Government continues to accept applications as long as there are “reasonable reasons” for the delay, promising a “pragmatic and flexible” approach.

Without proof of status, or a certificate of application, European immigrants or their family members lose their rights to reside and work and access health, education and social support services in the UK.