According to a think tank, more than 100,000 people waited more than three months for applications for the EU Settlement Scheme to be processed.
EU citizens and their families, including 23,900 children, had applications open for more than three months on May 7, IPPR said.
Applications from 13,000 people, including 650 children, had been pending for at least six months – while 8,000 people, including 285 children, had waited at least twelve months, which was a huge backlog.
The numbers were obtained following a request for freedom of information from the Ministry of the Interior. Since then, more have been received before the June 30 deadline, said the IPPR.
In their new report, EU Settlement Plan and Hostile Environment, it said these delays raise concerns about the situation for those applying after the deadline.
The government has pledged that those who apply in a timely manner will protect their existing rights, subject to the decision and possible legal remedies.
Anyone who does not apply by June 30th and does not have any other valid residence permit will be illegally residing in the UK but late applications will be allowed.
Late applicants may have to wait months for processing while they are unable to take up a new position, sign a new rental agreement, acquire a driver’s license or claim a new benefit.
Amreen Qureshi, IPPR researcher and co-author of the report, said there was a risk of a scandal similar to Windrush if the EUSS deadline was up.
She said: “The Windrush scandal has revealed the devastating impact of the hostile environment on people who had every right to be here, many of whom came to Britain as children. Now that the EU arbitration is ending, there is a risk that a similar scandal will unfold.
“As with Windrush, children and teenagers with no status could be after their 30th. Delays in late applications could make their experience even more difficult and stressful.
“The government must act now to ensure that the individual’s status is protected while they wait.”
Kevin Foster, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, pledged that anyone who files an application by June 30th will have their rights protected until their application is decided.
He continued: “Since the EUSS launched in March 2019, there have been more than 5.6 million applications and more than 5 million status awards. I would like to encourage all eligible persons who did not apply or did not apply on behalf of their children to apply now. “