Priti Patel

Priti Patel’s claim on number of EU citizens given settled status is False

The UK’s post-Brexit immigration system is starting to take shape, with a new points-based approach and the end to free movement.

Home Secretary Priti Patel detailed the new plan in the UK parliament and answered questions from MPs.

The future of EU citizens living in the UK has been a controversial point, and the Home Secretary made a claim about the number of people who had been confirmed as able to stay in the UK after Brexit.

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it to be False.


The UK government announced that those living in the UK would be able to apply to remain in the country, under the EU settlement scheme (EUSS), until 30 June 2021.

EU, European Economic Area and Swiss citizens will be able to apply to remain in the UK under the scheme. They have to provide evidence of their identity and continued residency to achieve either pre-settled or settled status.

Settled status means you can stay in the UK indefinitely, and potentially apply for British citizenship. It is usually available for those who started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period. You can spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing this status.

Pre-settled status is usually given to those who have not lived in the UK for a consecutive five years. It allows a person to stay in the UK for five years from the date their pre-settled status is granted. Then they must maintain continuous residence to apply for settled status.

A small number will be refused for various reasons, including being unable to provide evidence or already being British citizens.

Priti Patel’s claim in parliament was that “2.8 million people have been granted their settled status” but this is not accurate.

According to a fact sheet provided by the Home Office, internal figures show there have been “more than 3.2 million applications and nearly 2.9 million granted status”.

It does not say how many of these have been given settled status compared to the more precarious pre-settled status, but it is clear that 2.8 million have not been given settled status as claimed.

The latest published statistics up to the end of January 2020 showed 3.1 million applications and 2.7 million concluded. Of these 58 per cent were granted settled status and 41 per cent were granted pre-settled status. There are a small number of applications rejected for various reasons.

This works out as just under 1.6 million people being granted settled status by the end of January.

Campaigners have raised concerns about the proportion of people who have been given pre-settled status. They argue that many are accepting this as they have struggled to provide evidence that they have been in the country for the requisite five years.

The InLimbo project, which advocates for EU citizens, has said that elderly people in particular are struggling to supply the correct evidence to the government and are getting only pre-settled status.

Statistics published on administrative reviews of EUSS decisions revealed via freedom of information law showed that “89.5 per cent of initial decisions reviewed were overturned” up to September 2019. This has raised concerns that some initial decisions to give pre-settled rather than settled status could be incorrect.

The Home Office has stated that the majority of overturned decisions were as a result of new evidence being provided by the applicant.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: False

Priti Patel’s statement in parliament about the number of people given settled status was misleading. While her number of 2.8 million was the number of concluded cases where some form of status was given, a significant proportion were given pre-settled status, which is a temporary status and does not allow indefinite stay in the UK.

This claim is false

In response to an evidence request, the Home Office provided an EU settlement scheme fact sheet on the latest statistics.

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Email us at or join our Facebook group.

Photo thanks to DFID, CC BY-SA 2.0

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