The UK is cutting its residency application waiting time from months to weeks to deal with a backlog of EU nationals

LONDON — European Union citizens may get a fast-tracked application process for permanent UK residence as early as next year, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The Home Office has been trialling a new application system that has cut waiting times from months to weeks for some EU nationals seeking residency.

The programme, which includes a new online application form, was rolled out to a group of 20 companies in the summer and has been expanded to include some individuals and their families this week, according to the FT.

The faster application process is a response to the rapid increase in European nationals applying for UK residency in the wake of the Brexit vote in June.

Around 3.5 million nationals are living in the UK and face uncertainty over their future status. The

Last month German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk, the European Council president, rejected an early deal on citizens’ rights. Tusk said that the Brexit vote had created “anxiety and uncertainty” for Europeans living in Britain.

Similarly May has been attacked for not guaranteeing the rights of Europeans living in the UK.

Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who campaigned to Leave the European Union, said last week that “Britain should make clear at the start of the Brexit negotiations that EU citizens already here before that date can stay.

“We should expect reciprocal deals for Britons living in European countries, but Britain should make the first move to demonstrate goodwill.”

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