EU citizens’ hike in permanent residency applications since Brexit vote

by | Mar 21, 2017 | Translators' Column

I hope I am not boring you. But today I noticed a Reuters’ news item on EU nationals living in the UK desperate in their attempts to safeguard their right to remain in the UK.So they apply for permanent residency and find the process daunting, disheartening and intimidating.

In fact, there are currently 3 million European citizens living in the UK. A lot of them do not have the “official” right of permanent residency. They have just lived in the UK for quite some time (some for decades) and not felt the need to make their stay “official”.

Permanent residency applications: facts and figures

Reuters supplies us with a number of figures.

  • According to UK government information, applications for permanent residency were six times higher in the last quarter of 2016 than they were in the same period of the previous year.
  • However, the home office rejected or declared as invalid as many as 28 percent or 12,800 of the 46,000 applications made in the last three months of 2016.
  • The form is 85 pages long. Reuters claims that applicants have to produce an average of 7 kilos of supporting documents.
  • The process takes up to 6 months.

Reasons for failed applications

There are a number of reasons why applications for permanent residency in the UK fail.

  • Applicants fail to prove a sufficient level of income.
  • Required documents are not sent in. A German professor’s application was rejected because he wouldn’t submit his passport as he needed it regularly to go abroad.
  • Problems with providing precise dates for absences from the UK. (Who keeps travelling documents for the past five years?)
  • The complicated form is not easy to understand. (Lawyers have been known to charge as much as £2000 to help fill in the application! Even criminals are getting in on the act!)

So how does that leave people?

A lot of EU citizens have lived in the UK for many years. They live here because they like it here, they have their families here and their work. They’ve made a life for themselves in this country. They get on with their neighbours. They are fully integrated members of the community.

However, having to apply for a piece of paper to secure their continuing welcome in this country, makes them feel unwelcome.

What is more, it alienates them from the country they love. Especially when government officials turn down their applications due to bureaucratic reasons that lack any common sense or sympathy.

One of the applicants likened the Brexit process to that of a divorcing couple, where the EU citizens are the children caught up between the two parties.

Is this the treatment EU citizens deserve?

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