The UK government is working on releasing an app for mobile devices that will make it easy for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK after Brexit. However, the app does not work on iPhones due to the closed nature of NFC on these devices.
The app is actually pretty simple to use. A EU citizen wanting to settle down in the UK with “settled status” needs to answer three questions in the app, take their selfie and upload it for verification against Home Office records. Finally, they need to then scan the chip on their passport to confirm their identity. This is possible on an Android device since NFC chips inside an Android device can be accessed by third-party apps. However, the NFC chip inside the iPhone can only be used by specific apps for certain tasks like for payment purposes using Apple Pay.
Due to this, iPhone owners will have to either borrow an Android device from their friend or family to complete the verification process. Or they will have to take the longer route of sending their application and passport to the UK Visa and Immigration Service.
Home Office officials in the UK government knew about this issue when they started developing the app last year. But they were hoping to solve this problem by working closely with Apple. However, Apple has declined to comply with their requests despite meetings with UK government ministers including Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Home Offices sources told the BBC “we are continuing to engage with Apple at the highest level”.
While EU citizens will also be able to fill their applications from their PC or just about any other device, the process will take longer since they will have to post their passports. By using the app, the whole process will be far more convenient and take significantly less time. But with Apple in no mood to open its NFC chip to other apps and services, the convenience factor seems to have gone out the window for iPhone owners in the EU.