And External Relations Minister Ian Gorst has apologised for the ‘unwelcome’ process of Islanders having to apply to keep their existing rights to live and work here.
Yesterday, Senator Ian Gorst said that he had received emails from numerous people upset about having to apply for the Island’s settled status scheme, despite the fact they now regard Jersey as their home.
It is estimated that around 20,000 EU nationals live in the Island.
During a hearing with the Brexit Review Panel, Senator Gorst said that processing applications for the settled-status scheme had been slowed down by the pandemic.
‘It has made it very difficult for EU nationals to complete the paperwork that they need to,’ he said.
Luke Goddard, assistant director at Customs and Immigration, also blamed Covid for the applications process grinding to a halt.
‘We are just short of 14,000 applications received now and over 4,500 have been given the appropriate status,’ he said.
‘That was up until March this year and we have only had a dribble which we have been able to deal with since then.
‘An outstanding amount just shy of 800 have been processed to the point of just needing verification in one single point, which is national identity.
‘I am assured that we will be launching an online process to allow those applicants to complete the process without needing to come and see us in person.’
Mr Goddard said that it was estimated that around 6,000 EU nationals still needed to apply for settled status.
Senator Gorst added that he had received a number of communications from those who had found the scheme ‘bureaucratic’ and ‘unwelcoming’.
‘I have personally in my own mailbox had some EU nationals, who are long-term residents of Jersey, who have felt that it has been a very bureaucratic process and that is was unwelcoming,’ he said.
‘I apologise for that and there is no intention on the part of the government to be unwelcoming to those EU citizens. We really value them and it is a difficult process that has to be got through. We have tried to make it as easy as possible. It is easier than in the UK.
‘But I do recognise the very process of their home country, which they now consider us to be, having to ask for proof of their residency for the past number of years is personally difficult.’