Registering 3 mln EU migrants in UK will take 140 years at current rate

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Registering more than three million European Union (EU) migrants already living in Britain would be a "huge administrative task" for the government, a new report which came out Wednesday said.

Published by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, the report suggested that if all the European Economic Area (EEA) citizens already living in Britain at the beginning of 2016 applied for permanent residence in the same year, this would be equivalent to approximately 140 years' worth of work at the current rate of processing.

The EEA, which entered into force in 1994, covers 31 countries including 28 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Britain is expected to seek changes to free movement rules after the June 23 referendum in which around 52 percent of voters chose to leave the EU, but details of the system have yet to be outlined.

According to the bloc's rules, EU citizens can move freely among member states, which led to a surge of immigration in Britain during recent years.

Director of the Observatory Madeleine Sumption said the British government might need to register EU citizens quite quickly, but it also depended on "how long the Brexit negotiation would take."

"Given the sheer number of EU citizens who would need to register and the potential complexity of the process, this will be a formidable task," she said.

Assuming that the free movement would come to an end after the EU exit process is formalized, EU citizens may need to obtain documents demonstrating their residence rights within a relatively short period of time in order to distinguish themselves from newly arriving EU citizens who do not continue to enjoy free movement rights, according to the study.

Under the current rules, those who have lived continuously in Britain for at least five years automatically have a permanent right to reside. Endi

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