The Foreign Office is preparing to hand out up to £3m in grants to help UK nationals living in EU countries apply for the right to continue living there after Brexit.
The department has invited voluntary and community organisations to apply for grants of £60,000 or more, which they will use to help people register or apply for residence in EU or EEA states. It will give out £1.5m this financial year, and a further £1.5m in 2020-21 if the programme proves successful.
The FCO announced plans for the UK National Support Fund at the end of last month. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said at the time that the government wanted to “help UK nationals living across the EU to be fully ready for Brexit” on October 31.
But a call for applications yesterday – four days behind schedule – said organisations that bid for funding will not receive it until after Brexit.
Applications for the bids are open until 24 October, a week before the UK is set to leave the EU, and organisations will be told in November if their project proposals has been selected for further consideration.
UK nationals living in EU or EEA states will need to apply for residential status within a set timeframe to continue living there after Brexit. The deadline to apply varies by state. In a no-deal scenario, UK nationals in France will have six months to apply for a residence card, while Germany is planning to offer only a three-month grace period.
But despite campaigns by the UK and other governments targeting UK nationals living in the EU, the FCO said some “will be at risk of failing to register and will require extra support in being aware of and/or applying for a residency status”.
Organisations can bid for funding to give out information and advice; help people to understand the application process; or provide equipment people need to complete the registration process. “It is essential that the support provided via the grants scheme leads to [UK nationals] undertaking the registration/residency application process,” the Foreign Office said.
The Foreign Office said some groups of people are likely to need extra support applying for residence, including people with limited digital skills, those in hard-to-reach or remote areas, people with serious health conditions, children and some elderly people.
People who have experienced domestic abuse, modern slavery or human trafficking, and those without a fixed address, may also require extra help, the department said.
There are estimated to be more than a million UK nationals living in EU or EFTA states.
To apply, bidders must submit a brief description of their organisation, the area of the EU where they would operate and the services they plan to offer.