LONDON — Well, that didn’t go down well.

The British government was criticized Friday for poor taste and bad timing after posting a video informing EU citizens of the steps they will need to take if they want to “continue living” in the U.K. once Britain leaves the European Union.

“EU citizens and their families will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 31 December 2020,” the Home Office said in a tweet posted Thursday.

Glad tidings, it was not.

A group called the3million, campaigning for the rights of the 3 million EU citizens who live in the U.K., accused the government of “poor timing” by announcing, over the holidays, that they will have to register and pay if they wish to stay.

Free movement of people is one of the key pillars of the EU, a bloc of 28 countries. For decades, citizens from other EU member states could simply buy a plane ticket, stuff clothes in a suitcase, and move to another E.U. country – no special visa needed. Many EU citizens planted deep roots in the U.K., acquiring spouses, mortgages and pets along the way.

Concerns over immigration were one of the key drivers behind the Brexit vote in 2016, and even though attitudes appear to have dramatically mellowed since then, British Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear she wants free movement of people to end after Britain leaves the bloc.

What happens to the 3 million EU citizens who live in the U.K. – and the 1 million British citizens living in the EU – has been one of the most prominent issues in the Brexit negotiations.

In June, the British government announced that EU citizens living in the U.K. will have to apply to stay. But EU citizens have criticized the upbeat tone of the new Home Office video, its timing, and the need to “pay to stay.”

The new settlement status scheme is currently being tested and the government says it will be fully up and running as of March 30, the day after Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc. EU citizens will need to apply for settlement status before the end of June 2021.

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