Registration of millions of European Union citizens living in Britain is underway. They need to apply for inclusion on a new “settled status” register before July 2021 if they want to stay.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29 this year.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Britain’s interior ministry has started the first public testing of the registration system for all EU citizens who hold a valid passport and any non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card.

“From the very beginning we have been clear that securing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK is our priority,” immigration minister Caroline Nokes said, adding that the new settlement scheme would be “easy and straightforward” to use.

Prime Minister Theresa May later told parliament Britain would waive the 65 pound application fee for EU nationals wishing to stay and would reimburse anyone who has already paid.

In a separate report, the Guardian quoted May as saying: “I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. Anyone who has applied during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed.”