Nearly 246,000 EU citizens and their families are still waiting for their digital documentation proving their right to live in the UK a year after the settlement scheme closed.
Without the biometric permits Europeans struggle to get jobs, rent homes, travel abroad and get NHS treatment.
Certificates showing they have applied are often not enough to convince bosses and landlords they are here legally.
And even those are often arriving months later.
Former Immigration minister Caroline Nokes who designed the scheme said: “This was all meant to be simple and quick.
“The Home Office needs to give people evidence of their right to be here otherwise they are left in a horrifying limbo.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added: “These delays are a disgrace.
“Priti Patel needs to get a grip. Home Office incompetence is letting down EU citizens who have lived here for years.”
And campaigners the3Million named after the number of EU citizens living in Britain say the backlog standing at 245,700 will now take at least ten months to clear.
EU nationals were eligible for permanent right to remain in the UK if they had been living here for five years by the end of 2020. Applications closed on 30th June 2021
Lukas Richly, 41, from Germany arrived in 2012 and worked as a waiter and restaurant manager. He married his Scottish wife, Kirsty, 37, two years later and they now have two children, Walter, 6, and Eleni, 4.
But when he decided to take a computer course at Perth Highlands and Islands University his lack of digital status meant he was denied a £5,750 student loan.
And he had to work part-time in a nearby McDonalds to make ends meet.
He said: ”I applied for settlement a year ago. The way the Home Office is behaving is atrocious.
“I’ve sent countless emails but cannot get any information about progress.”
“I’m very frustrated. I thought the process would be smooth and efficient as promised.”
And Andreea Dumitrache of the3million added: “Delays have serious consequences for people which go far beyond anxiety.
“Jobs are threatened, rental opportunities lost and travel is fraught with difficulties.
“Employers, banks and landlords are confused by the lack of clear guidance or simply unwilling to provide their service to anyone without a granted status.”
And they could even face paying for NHS treatment they are entitled to have for free.
The Home Office said they had more applications than expected. Officials said straightforward ones take five days but complex cases longer.
A spokesperson added: “Both EU citizens and their family members continue to have access to their right to work, live and study here while their application remains pending.”