24 Oct 2016, 20 mins ago

The Home Office is running a new secret online pilot programme to speed up applications for permanent residence from EU citizens and their family members.

The pilot scheme, uncovered by the Financial Times, is said to have been spurred on by the post-Brexit boom in applications for EU citizens keen to formalise their permanent residence rights in the UK.

It is hoped that the online scheme will replace the cumbersome and confusing 85-page form, which the Home Office currently suggests EU citizens and their family members should complete and submit when applying for permanent residency.

No doubt, a more streamlined application process will ease the burden of the anticipated rush for permanent residency, triggered by the uncertainty regarding the fate of EU nationals in the UK following Brexit.

According to reports from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, the UK which currently processes around 25,000 permanent residence applications a year, may see as many as 140 times that number.

The online pilot scheme would also serve as an effective tool for keeping track of the numbers of EU migrants and their family members in the UK. It is thought that there are approximately 3.5 million EU nationals living in the UK – however, it is impossible to assess the true number because the UK does not currently require EU nationals to document their arrival.