THOUSANDS of EU citizens in Colchester have applied to live and work in the UK after Brexit, according to the Home Office.

Official figures show 6,190 applications were made in the borough up to the end of last year, of which 5,610 were finalised.

Of those, 3,380 applicants were granted settled status, meaning they have a permanent right to remain in the UK.

A further 2,200 were handed pre-settled status, which gives them permission to keep living in the country and the chance to reapply once they have done so for five years.

The rest of the applications had other outcomes, such as being refused, withdrawn or void, or invalid.​

The EU Settlement Scheme allows resident EU and Swiss citizens, and those from the European economic area countries to apply to continue living and working in the UK.

The Government has hailed the process as a success, saying it has received more than three million applications so far.

But EU citizens’ rights campaign group, the3million, say even a small percentage of individuals missing out means misery for thousands.

More than three million EU citizens have applied to live and work in the UK after Brexit, according to the Home Office, and more than 2.7 million have been granted permission to remain.

The national figures cover up to the end of January.

Home Secretary Priti Patel described the programme as the "biggest of its kind in British history", which would mean "EU citizens can evidence their rights for decades to come".

She said: "It's now time for EU countries to adopt a similar scheme."

But Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million, said the figures do not shed light on those who don’t apply, are refused unlawfully or discouraged from applying.

She said: “Just a small percentage of individuals falling through the cracks means misery for tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people.

“Those people will face the full force of the hostile environment and the Government have so far avoided to say how it will handle those cases.”

In Colchester, Romanian nationals made the most applications - 1,680 up to the end of December.

This was followed by people from Poland with 950 applications and Lithuania with 520.

Italy and Bulgaria were also common places of origin for applicants, with 490 and 330 applications respectively.

Of the applications 5,220 were from people aged 18 to 64, 840 from under 18s and 130 from 65 and overs.

Successful applicants can stay after the deadline on June 30 2021 once the Brexit transition period and freedom of movement end.

They can use the NHS, study and access public funds and benefits, as well as travel in and out of the country.