Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to help around 3,000 EU citizens working for City Hall and its agencies with the cost of securing their immigration status post Brexit.
Under rules previously announced by the Government, all EU nationals currently in the UK will need to apply for ‘settled status’ to prove their eligibility to live and work here once the UK leaves the EU next March.
Mr Khan has called on ministers to drop the £65 fee but says if they fail to do so, City Hall, the London Fire Brigade, Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation and the London Legacy Development Corporation will pay the fees for any employees affected.
TfL has around 1,700 employees who are EU nationals, while the Met employs more than 700 officers from EU countries as well as 295 staff, including community support officers, and 237 special constables.
There are also 30 City Hall employees likely to be affected, plus 6 at the LLDC and 4 OPDC employees.
The Mayor’s office has confirmed that today’s announcement only applies to direct employees, and excludes those working for contractors.
Mr Khan said: “London is a truly global city where we see our incredible diversity as a strength, not a weakness.
“Our EU staff are Londoners, they are critical to the work of City Hall and across the GLA, they belong here and they will always be welcome and valued.
“I urge the government to scrap the ‘settled status’ application fee – no one should be forced to pay to stay because their immigration status was changed through no fault of their own.
“However, until Ministers do this, I can confirm that we will help our EU staff apply for ‘settled status’ as quickly and painlessly as possible.”
The Mayor’s pledge has been welcomed by London Assembly members.
Len Duvall, leader of the Labour Group on the Assembly, said: “With many EU citizens living in London understandably worried about their right to stay come March 2019, this is welcome news from the Mayor.
“The current chaos surrounding the Withdrawal Agreement and the Government is causing a lot of stress for many people.
“Knowing they will have to pay quite a significant sum just to apply for settled status will add to their burdens.”
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon also welcomed the Mayor’s announcement but called on him “to go much further and ensure that bus drivers and the thousands of other people who work for TfL services, but who are not TfL employees are also included.”