By Gokhan Kurtaran
LONDON (AA) – Approximately 3.6 million EU citizens living and working in the U.K. are concerned about losing their current rights after the country's departure from the EU.
But the number of EU citizens living in the U.K. is not accurate, said Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million NGO — which works on defending the rights of EU citizens living and working in the U.K.
"This is based on migration statistics, Office for National Statistics data. But this data is highly inaccurate. They don’t include rural population or children under 16. People think it could be double of what’s estimated," Bohn told Anadolu Agency.
"Officials estimate there are 3.6 million citizens, and they think there are also 1,4 million non-EU family members that might also be entitled to the scheme. That brings it to 5 million, people that could be affected [from Brexit]," he added.
EU citizens must apply to the U.K. Home Office for a 'settled status' to be able to stay in the country after Brexit.
"So, there is a lot that British government could do to find everyone, but they are not doing enough. They are not investing enough money into an outreach campaign and the deadline is short," said Bohn.
"Families could split apart if they don’t realize they have to apply," he added.
There are also 1.5 million the U.K. citizens living in the EU countries and they are not happy about the situation either, Bohn said.
"Their own government does not care about them. I think the idea is, you have left, you are on your own. They lose as much as we lose," he added.
Under the current regime, an EU citizen who is willing to work and live in the U.K. can only move to the country by taking a plane or train ticket and benefit from the health, education and social services. This also applies to British citizens living in the EU.
But after Britain's departure from the EU, the possibility is over and Britain is expected to move to adopt an score-based immigration system just like Australia. Thus, people will be scored by their language proficiency and experience in the occupations and accepted as immigrants.
EU citizens living in the U.K. must apply for the 'settled status' by Dec. 31, 2020, with their passports and identity information.
An EU citizen must have been living in the country for five years by the end of 2020 in order to apply.
Those who have not yet completed the five-year term will be granted a temporary residency permit until the term is completed.
Three conditions are required for granting residency permits to EU citizens, including that they should have already lived in the U.K., proven their identity, and not have been convicted.
In case of a no-deal Brexit, the freedom of movement which allows EU citizens to live and work freely in the U.K. will end on Oct. 31.
The U.K. is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31 unless the officials from both sides can agree on a deal next week and an extension is granted by the EU on a possible request from the U.K. government.
*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara