EU MIGRANTS are holding off on applications to stay in the UK because they are “fearful” of problems, a charity has found.

Around 3.4 million EU citizens must apply for settled status to continue living in the UK after Brexit.

But a report by the Migrant Voice charity has found many have delayed their applications because of the “daunting” process.

One third of the 300-plus people surveyed by the organisation said they had not submitted the required paperwork despite comments last month by UK Security Minister, Brandon Lewis, that those without legal status could be deported.

Half of those surveyed said the application process was “difficult” and almost 40% had been asked to give further evidence about their residence in the UK.

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Some said it had caused them “significant stress, anxiety or even depression” and people who had changed their names reported additional trouble in proving their identities to the Home Office.

Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice, said: “These findings are deeply concerning, especially given the vast scale of this scheme and the devastating consequences for those who are failed by it or who do not apply before the deadline – the sudden loss of lawful residence in the UK and all the rights that go with that.

“While we welcome the fact that many people are finding the process a smooth one, it is troubling that so many people are facing significant technical problems, poor guidance, delays and a lack of communication. The severe impact on the health and wellbeing of so many of those applying or facing the prospect of it is equally concerning.

“We call on all UK politicians and all who have a role to play in the continued development and implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme to read this report and act swiftly on its recommendations.

“The message, repeated so often by our politicians, that EEA [European Economic Area] nationals and their families are welcome here must be made a reality through legislation that guarantees their rights, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, and through a declaratory or registration scheme that works for all.”

Figures from October show more than 590,000 people applied for settled status that month.

Overall, around 1.9m have been granted permission to remain, but last month the percentage of those given only temporary permissions was up. That group represented more than 40% of the month’s bids.

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Migrant Voice wants the UK Government to enshrine the rights of all EEA nationals and their families in the UK in law and ensure no-one becomes undocumented as a result of not having applied to the scheme by making it declaratory.

One Polish masters student, who asked for his name to be removed from this article fearing a negative impact on his case, has been in the UK since 2004 and submitted his application 11 months ago. The 37-year-old, from Edinburgh, is still waiting for an answer and believes a name change and a drink driving conviction may be holding this up. He said: “I’ve been calling the Home Office every single month for the past seven months for an update. They say they can’t tell me anything yet.

“It’s very worrying and I’m feeling more anxious than I did before.”

The Home Office said its own survey had found almost 80% of applicants found the process “easy” and more than 1500 staff are working on the scheme, with no further information needed in 75% of cases.