An official UK Home Office app, which allows EU citizens living in Britain to scan documents to support their application to remain in the UK after Brexit, is still only available for Android. Europeans currently living in the United Kingdom are growing frustrated with the technical problems making Britain's EU Settlement Scheme more difficult.
Of the 3.6 million eligible residents, only around one million have already applied for settled status. The application process requires proof of identity, which can be done via scanning documents such as a passport into the EU Exit: ID Document Check app -unless you use an iPhone. The Home Office's advice, as written on the official gov.uk website is to "use someone else’s Android phone to prove your identity", or visit a government center in person.
The UK is set to leave the European Union on October 31, a deadline that new Prime Minster Boris Johnson has committed to "do or die". Johnson, who ran for leadership on with a clear message that Brexit must be delivered in a little over two months' time, is reported to have reiterated this to EU leaders last week. The British government has also announced that it would end freedom of movement on the Halloween deadline, leaving the 2.6 million EU citizens yet to get their settled status applications processed in limbo.
The Home Office told British newspaper, The Financial Times, that it was working on bringing the app to Apple "later this year", but time is running out. The sticking point was that the app uses NFC to scan the biometric chip in European passports. Apple's NFC functionality only supported the NDEF data format, and the data encoded inside passports does not follow these standards. However, Apple agreed a deal with the UK government in April to open up the iPhone's NFC so it can work with the Brexit app. Despite this, the app is still not ready.
The uncertainty is terrifying
For the 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK, and the estimated 1.5 million British passport holders living in the European Union, the wait is unbearable. I know this, because I am one of them. In Germany, we have our own waiting game to play. Rather than an app, we have an online form for the Berlin Foreigners Registration Office to fill in. You add your details, then wait. And then wait some more.
If was in the reverse situation, I would welcome the EU Exit: ID Document Check app. Something to speed the process along. But the fact that it is not available on iPhone is a joke. Sure, there were some hoops to jump through at first, but what has the Home Office been doing since April? When the general rhetoric in both my homeland and in Europe is what a royal s**tshow Britain is making of Brexit, you'd think that they'd have some top developers working around the clock on this. Telling people to borrow someone's Android is not a good look, especially when you are trying to convince EU leaders you can solve the hard-boarder problem in Ireland 'with new technology'.
Remainers have labeled the idea of ending free movement on October 31 as dangerous. Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called it "Windrush on steroids". If the UK government can't even get an app working on iPhone's running iOS in three months, how is it going to use the technology to process 2.6 million EU citizens in even less time?
For now, the wait continues.
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