A record number of two million EU citizens have sought to stay permanently in the UK in the past month amid fears of a no-deal Brexit.
Half a million applications were received in September, the highest figure since the scheme opened fully in April. The Home Office said that more than two million EU citizens had applied to stay in the UK permanently.
The countries with the most applicants were Poland with 347,300, Romania (280,600), Italy (200,700), Portugal (162,500) and Spain (115,700).
The government is still refusing to say what will happen"
The home secretary, Priti Patel, said: "EU citizens have made a huge contribution to this country and will play a key role in cementing Britain's status as an outward-looking, global leader after Brexit.
"That is why I am thrilled that we have had 2 million applications to the EU settlement scheme so that EU citizens can secure their immigration status under UK law."
But only 373,000 applications were concluded in September, creating a backlog of more than 147,000. The Home Office states that the average processing time for an application is five days, but has said this could be longer if people need to send further paperwork.
Of the applications received, 1,524,500 have been concluded, with 61 percent gaining settled status and 38 percent holding pre-settled status.
People who have lived in Britain for five years can get settled status; those who have not can get pre-settled status until they reach the five-year mark.
Nicholas Hatton, who founded The3Million, which campaigns for the post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in Britain, said the spike reflected heightened worries among Europeans.
"When you frighten people, they get worried and they try to guarantee their status, and the government has really scared them with the risk of no deal," he told AFP.
He also said it was unclear what the consequences would be for people who do not apply by the deadline.
"The government is still refusing to say what will happen," he said.
Launched in March, the online system allows EU, wider European Economic Area and Swiss citizens residing in Britain to obtain, free of charge, settled status or pre-settled status.
They have until December 2020 to apply.
Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31, without a divorce deal unless an agreement or a third delay can be negotiated in the remaining three weeks.