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The Home Office mobile phone app for EU nationals applying for settled status in the UK post-Brexit will not work on iPhones.
The app, which is still in its pilot stage, is intended to let EU citizens apply quickly by submitting information like their home address and contact information, as well as scanning their passport. The information is then matched with information the government holds on the citizen.
However, Apple does not allow third-party developers to access the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities needed to scan the passport chips – Android phones allow this feature.
Earlier this month, Computer Weekly asked the Home Office to clarify that the app would not work for iPhone users. The department refused to confirm this but stressed the app would not be the only way for EU citizens to apply.
However, during a Home Office briefing with MEPs in Brussels yesterday (24 April), the department confirmed the app was not compatible with Apple’s mobile devices.
This means those with iPhones won’t be able to use the user-friendly app. According to the Guardian, Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said that during the meeting one of the Home Office officials had proposed those without Android devices could simply borrow someone else’s phone.
The app, which will officially launch later this year, is only part of a wider scheme to allow EU citizens to register for settled status. The Home Office has contracted several suppliers, such as Accenture, BJSS, Capgemini, Deloitte Digital, PA Consulting and Worldreach, to create a cross-platform digital system.
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The Worldreach part of the contract is for the smartphone technology “to develop a secure and easy-to-use digital solution”. Worldreach specialises in providing immigration apps that use a smartphone NFC reader to scan the chips in passports.
A Home Office spokesperson said it’s developing “from scratch a new digital, streamlined, user-friendly scheme for EU citizens to safeguard their right to stay in the UK after we leave the EU”.
The Home Office told Computer Weekly earlier this month that although “technology will play an important role in making applications simple”, it’s only one part of the process, and for those who don’t have digital devices, there will be non-digital options in place to prove their identity.
Anyone who needs to apply for settled status will be able to do so, regardless of whether they own a smartphone, the Home Office added.
“We are well aware of the challenges of ensuring three million EU citizens and their family members living here understand the need to apply and have the ability to,” the Home Office said, adding that it has launched a national awareness campaign to ensure EU citizens know what’s happening.