HUNDREDS of thousands of EU citizens have been left in “limbo” by the UK Government, Ian Blackford has said.

The SNP Westminster leader urged Boris Johnson to scrap the deadline (June 30) for European nationals to apply for settled status.

The Tory administration has been warned repeatedly that a backlog at the Home Office means many applicants are still waiting to hear about their submissions. The uncertainty has raised fears they could lose their right to rent and work, as well as access to healthcare and benefits.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Blackford pointed out that in July 2019 Johnson vowed that EU citizens in the UK would “have the absolute certainty for the right to live and remain”.

Ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum, Johnson, Priti Patel and Michael Gove signed a statement which promised “EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK”.

READ MORE: Last-ditch appeal to force Tory U-turn on 'cliff edge' for EU citizens

Blackford told MPs: "Hundreds of thousands of EU nationals have been left in limbo, including thousands of children."

The SNP MP raised the issue of unprocessed cases, adding: "Will the Prime Minister honour his word, give certainty, scrap the disastrous settled status deadline before we face another Tory Windrush?"

Johnson replied: "It's fantastic that 5.6 million people have applied. We are processing all the applications as fast as we possibly can and clearly the most important thing is for anybody who hasn't applied to get their application in today."

Blackford again raised the backlog, adding: "Overnight, thousands of our friends and neighbours could become illegal immigrants. They're living in fear for their jobs, their families and their livelihoods all because this Prime Minister won't keep his word."

Johnson commented: "There's been several extensions of the deadline, it's five years now since the Brexit referendum."

He went on to highlight support that has been offered with applications and hailed the settlement scheme as an “outstanding success”.

The Prime Minister added: “Anybody, applying within the deadline will of course have their had their case dealt with, and I urge them to get on with it.”

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Blackford’s intervention comes after it was revealed more than 100,000 people have waited for more than three months for their applications to the EU Settlement Scheme to be processed.

Some 102,000 EU citizens and family members, including 23,900 children, had applications outstanding for more than three months as of May 7, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said. Applications for 13,000 people, including 650 children, had been outstanding for at least six months – while 8000 people, including 285 children, have waited at least a year.

The figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office.

Launched in March 2019, the settlement scheme was drawn up by the Tory government to allow EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to apply for permission to stay in the UK after Brexit.

Downing Street dismissed calls to automatically grant right to remain for these citizens, meaning millions of people in the UK were forced to apply.

Home Office figures show 5.6 million applications had been received by May 31, with 52% granted settled status –  indefinite leave to remain living and working in the UK. A further 43% have been given “pre-settled” status, granting them leave to remain for five years.

One in 50 (2%) applications have been rejected.

Applicants are automatically issued with a Certificate of Application, which Tory ministers insist will ensure none lose their right to work or rent.

“From 1 July, they will be able to rely on their Certificate of Application as proof to access their right to work or rent, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service,” Immigration minister Kevin Foster said.

“This means no-one will be unable to work due to their intime application to the EU Settlement Scheme not having being decided before the deadline for applications.”