People with iPhones are unable to fully use the app designed to help EU citizens register to stay in Britain after Brexit, the home secretary has admitted.
Sajid Javid said officials were working with Apple to rectify the problem, which he said has been caused by the company’s technology.
iPhone users are unable to use the app to read the chip on their passport and submit a selfie to help prove their identity, unlike those on other devices.
Applicants will be able to complete the process in other ways, but the glitch is an unwelcome headache for the Home Office.
The problem was outlined as Mr Javid described how EU citizens already in the UK can apply to stay.
“With a non-Apple phone, in most cases, you will be able to download an app which if you put your passport next to your phone it will be able to download that information, send it to us straight away through the app,” Mr Javid told a House of Lords committee.
We would like that to work for everyone, whatever smartphone device they have got, but we don’t control their own software, their hardware.
“And then you take a picture of yourself, a selfie … you download that too and it will match that with the information that’s downloaded from the chip, put it together and it will confirm your ID electronically.”
Mr Javid added that by giving a National Insurance number which can be cross-referenced with HMRC records, applicants will be able to prove their residence in the UK without the need to submit any paperwork.
“We would like that to work for everyone, whatever smartphone device they have got, but we don’t control their own software, their hardware,” he said.
The home secretary said hundreds of extra officials are being employed to help deal with the new settlement system.
“I don’t under-estimate the scale of the challenge, I do recognise that. Nothing like this has been done by the Home Office before,” Mr Javid said.
“That said, ever since the vote to leave, and certainly the triggering of Article 50, the Home Office has been preparing for this.”
The settlement scheme applies to any EU citizen who wants to remain living in Britain after the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020.
There are an estimated 3.8 million EU nationals currently in the UK.
Citizens’ rights is one of a number of issues that needs to be sorted out as part of Britain’s exit from the bloc.
The first people are expected to apply within weeks.
Under Home Office plans, the online platform will be attempt to process a small number of real cases at the end of the summer, with a phased roll-out of the scheme beginning later this year.
Applicants will be required to pay £65 – the same as the current cost of a permanent residence document and £10.50 less than the minimum cost of a standard British passport.
It will cost £32.50 for children under 16 and there will be no charge for those who already have permanent residence documents.
It is envisaged the scheme will be fully operational by 30 March 2019, the day after Britain officially leaves the EU, with the final deadline for applications coming at the end of June 2021.
EU citizens and family members who have been in the UK for five years by the end of 2020 can apply for “settled status”, which means they have indefinitely leave to live and work here.
Those who arrived by 31 December 2020 but have not been in the UK for five years can seek to stay until they have, at which point they can apply for settled status.
The Government expects applications to be processed within two weeks, but officials are hopeful they can be dealt with with in a matter of days.
On Wednesday, Mr Javid accused the EU of neglecting the post-Brexit rights of UK ex-pats living in Europe, claiming the EU’s preparations were “not good enough”.