EU citizens living in Britain have until midnight to apply for the post-Brexit settlement scheme or risk losing their rights to legally work or claim certain benefits, including free healthcare.
More than five million people have applied and the Government faces a large backlog.
Labour has called for the deadline to be extended but a government minister today said the scheme had been “an extraordinary effort”.
Business minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Sky News that “sometimes government processes can be difficult — this one was a really effective and slick one for those 5.2 million people”.
Last week around 400,000 forms had not yet been processed.
Elena Remigi, who set up the In Limbo Project to document the experiences of EU citizens in the UK, said: “It is difficult to explain when you want to rent a home or apply for a job that your status is ‘pending’.”
Silvana Lanzetta moved to London from Italy 20 years ago. She and her daughter Carys, 12, have had their settled status confirmed, but her son Oskar, six, still has not.
Ms Lanzetta, who lives in Brentford, said: “It’s been so stressful. I have tried calling the Home Office helpline, but no one answers. I don’t understand why my daughter and I have settled status, but my son does not.”
It is estimated there are some one million EU nationals living in London. Some boroughs have set up schemes to help people navigate the forms.
Maike Bohn, co-founder of the 3million, said: “If you ring the Government helpline you’re on hold for an hour and a half.
“There are families who don’t know they have to apply for their children and elderly people who do not understand the process. It’s a shambles. There is so much confusion there is bound to endless discrimination and people could lose their rights to work and access healthcare without even knowing it.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “It usually takes around five working days to process a complete application. However, as we approach the June 30 deadline, outstanding cases are increasingly complex.
“Dedicated civil servants are working extremely hard to help applicants secure their status.”