EU citizens being forced to apply to remain in the UK after Brexit are facing “unnecessary and unpleasant insecurity and anxiety”, Scotland’s Migration Minister has said.

Opening a Holyrood debate on protecting the rights of EU citizens in Scotland, Ben Macpherson criticised the current system and called for an alternative “confirming rights rather than acquiring rights through application”.

Macpherson argued the UK should scrap its two-tier application process and bring forward legislation protecting EU citizens’ rights to remain.

The UK Government’s EU settlement scheme, which can grant settled status, pre-settled status for those with less than five years’ continuous residence in the UK, or reject the application, has received more than 92,700 requests to remain from EU citizens in Scotland in seven months.

Drawing parallels between the current system and the Windrush scandal, Macpherson said: “It is completely wrong that EU citizens face potentially being dragged into the hostile environment immigration policies of the current UK Government.”

He said the current policy is leaving EU citizens “in unacceptable limbo” and wary to apply.

Macpherson added: “The UK Government is effectively creating two classes of EU citizens – people who receive settled status who will be able to stay in the UK permanently and will have their rights fully protected by law and – in stark contrast – people given only pre-settled status.

“This is concerning because this status is more precarious than settled status because it doesn’t give people a permanent right to stay here.”

“The Scottish Government has been clear for some time now that EU citizens should not have to apply to retain their right to live, work and study in this country.

“We, like many others across the UK, are deeply concerned about the consequences for those EU citizens who don’t apply by the deadline or who don’t apply at all.”