EU citizens can easily stay in UK after Brexit, but only if they have an Android phone

The UK government is releasing a smartphone app to help EU citizens apply to remain in the UK post-Brexit, but the process will be longer for Apple users.

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The UK government will soon release a smartphone app that makes it easier for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK after Brexit--but only if they have an Android phone, the BBC reported Thursday.

The app is part of the government's plan to get the 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK to apply for "settled status," the BBC reported. The app will ask users three questions, and have them take a selfie that will be checked against Home Office records. Users will then scan the chip on their passport to verify their identity--however, this part of the process only work on an Android phone.

Apple users will either have to borrow an Android phone from someone else to complete their application, or mail their passport to the UK Visa and Immigration Service instead, which would take significantly longer, the BBC noted.

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Android users make up about 50% of the UK market, with Apple taking the other 50%, according to the BBC. That means about half the population could see delays for their applications to be approved. Microsoft and Blackberry operating systems, which make up less than 1% of the total UK market, will also not be able to scan the passport chips.

While Home Office officials knew that Apple devices would not allow the app to function, they were hoping that Apple would release an update to solve the problem before the app's release, the BBC reported.

Apple devices have included Near Field Communication chips, which would allow passport scanning, since 2014. However, the company has limited use of the chip to Apple Pay transactions, and has so far declined to open it up to third-party apps.

Apple is still working with the UK government to find a solution; however, it may not happen before the UK leaves the EU in March, according to the BBC.

UK citizens will also be able to use desktop computers to apply for settled status, the Home Office noted, but will also have to mail their passports rather than scanning the chip. The government is also setting up computer terminals at 56 libraries around the UK to help those without smartphones or digital skills apply.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • The UK government will release a smartphone app that makes it easier for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK after Brexit, but it will only work on Android phones.
  • Non-Android users will have to mail their passport in, making for a longer application process.

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Image: iStockphoto/Halfpoint