Skip to main content
Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Imagining the impossible? fears of deportation and the barriers to obtaining EU Settled Status in the UK


In early 2021, over 5 million European Union (EU) citizens had applied for settled status to secure their right to continue to live, work and study in the United Kingdom (UK) after the country’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit). In 2018, the Home Office launched a Statement of Intent to implement an application process for EU citizens through its EU Settlement Scheme. In the period leading up to Brexit, the UK government assured EU migrants that their existing rights under EU law would remain essentially unchanged and that applying for settled status would be smooth, transparent and simple. However, the application process has resulted in some long-term residents failing to obtain settled status, despite providing the required information. Based on qualitative in-depth interviews with 20 EU migrants living in two major metropolitan areas in Northern England, this article discusses the significant barriers which EU citizens face in the application process. This situation particularly affects the most vulnerable EU migrants with limited English-language skills and/or low literacy levels as well as those who are digitally excluded. The study contributes to the growing body of research on the consequences of Brexit for vulnerable EU migrants in the UK, focusing specifically on Central and Eastern European migrants.

You might also be interested in :

Brexit and Beyond: Transforming Mobility and Immobility
This Guest Editorial introduces a special issue entitled Brexit and Beyond: Transforming Mobility and Immobility. The unfolding story of Brexit provided the backdrop to a series of events, organised in 2018 and 2019…
Going Back, Staying Put, Moving On: Brexit and the Future Imaginaries of Central and Eastern European Young People in Britain
This paper explores the ways in which young people aged 12 to 18 who were born in Central and Eastern European EU countries but now live in the United Kingdom construct their future imaginaries in the context of Brexit. It reports on findings from a large-scale survey…
Migrant Experiences of Conviviality in the Context of Brexit: Polish Migrant Women in Manchester
This paper explores how people live together in different places in the context of Brexit. This issue seems more relevant than ever due to the continued attention being paid to immigration…
The Emotional Geographies of Migration and Brexit: Tales of Unbelonging
This article focuses on the emotionality of belonging among European Union (EU) citizens in the context of the United Kingdom's (UK) 2016 referendum and its result in favour of the UK leaving the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. Drawing from testimonies of EU27 citizens in the UK…


Central and Eastern European Migration Review


Sanna Elfving (United Kingdom)

Article meta

Country / region covered

Population studied

Year of Publication

Source type