The Speaker
Wednesday, 24 July 2024 – 23:17

Brexit: Apple Decline Access To UK Government’s ‘EU Citizens App’

The UK Government are is preparing to launch a smartphone app to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK after Brexit – Albeit the app will not fully work on Apple devices.

The app is a significant part of the government’s drive to get the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK to apply for a “settled status”. App users will have to answer three “simple” questions, take a “selfie” to be checked against Home Office records and then – if they have an Android phone – scan the chip on their passport to verify their identity.

The Home Office says a decision will be made on whether they can stay in the UK within two weeks. As things stand, people with Apple devices will not be able to scan their passports and will either have to borrow an Android phone to complete their application or post their passport to the UK Visa and Immigration Service instead, meaning the process is likely to take longer.

UK Government has planned Apple to release an update to its operating system that would allow users to scan their passports in the same way that people with Android phones can.

The US tech giant have so far declined to do so, despite representations from UK government ministers, including a trip to the firm’s Silicon Valley HQ by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Apple devices have been fitted with Near Field Communication chips since 2014, but the company has mostly limited use of the chip to Apple Pay transactions, for security and commercial reasons.

There was speculation on tech blogs that Apple would unlock the chip reader to third party apps when it rolled out its latest operating system, 12.1 a process currently under-way.

But Apple has confirmed to the media that those rumours were not true, and it has not been unlocked.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes, in an appearance before the Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday, gave hint of the frustrations at the top of the government, after it was pointed out to her that only half of the intended audience for the new app would be able to use it.

The government will be hoping that the problem can be sorted before the UK departs from the EU in March 2019.

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