A new pilot project for EU citizens seeking leave to remain in the UK after the country leaves the Union is being trialled.
The online system is being tested in secret by 20 corporate clients before its public launch, the Financial Times reported.
It’s understood that the system will speed up applications for indefinite leave to remain from EU citizens living and working in the UK, who are estimated to number around 3.5 million. EU citizens arriving in Britain do not have to register with the authorities and the new system will also give the Government a more accurate figure of how many EU nationals are currently in the country.
At the moment, around 25,000 applications for permanent residence in the UK are made each year by EU citizens and their families, the majority of which come from people who are married to a non-EU citizen.
However, it is predicted that in the wake of Brexit, the numbers could escalate with up to 140 years’ worth of applications being made in just a year.
It’s hoped the new online application system will help reduce the bureaucracy and replace the 85-page form that currently has to be filled in and delivered to the Home Office, with a more user-friendly and efficient online-only application.
It’s understood that companies taking part in the trials will also be required to provide feedback on the system and any problems they find.
Jurga McCluskey, head of immigration at Deloitte, which is taking part in the trial, said that it showed the Government is thinking ahead.
She added: “If we have EU workers with [secure residence] status, there could be provisions within government policy to protect them in the long term, meaning that free movement laws will continue to influence UK immigration policy for a period of time post-Brexit.”