Northern Ireland news

EU citizens should 'be given physical proof they have the right to reside in the UK'

European Union flags in Brussels, Belgium

EU citizens should be given physical proof they have the right to reside in the UK, the first and deputy first ministers have said.

Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill have joined ministers in Scotland and Wales to voice concerns that EU citizens are not given physical documents to prove they have secured settled or pre-settled status.

The ministers said the lack of physical proof could cause problems for EU citizens who wish to access services or alter their employment.

People from a country in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland need permission to live in the UK. Irish citizens do need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

In a joint letter to Kevin Foster, UK Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, the ministers said paper documents must be issued, along with digital proof, as an additional safeguard.

The ministers, including Scotland's Minister for Europe Jenny Gilruth and Wales’ Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt, said documentation will provide re-assurance to EU citizens, help prevent discrimination, and assist employers.

The letter stated: "We all have an obligation under the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 to ensure that EU citizens are treated fairly."

It added: "All other groups of people who choose to make the UK their home and to contribute to our communities and economy are given physical proof.

"It cannot be right to deny EU citizens the re-assurance that is offered to other migrant groups.

"Having two types of proof for two groups will lead at best to confusion and at worst to discrimination."

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