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BREXIT

OPINION: Britons living in Europe will be locked out of UK by ‘inhumane’ law

Britons living in Europe who have non-British partners or families are effectively being exiled from their country of birth by the UK government's 'inhumane' immigration bill, explains Brian Robinson from the campaign group Brexpats Hear our Voice.

OPINION: Britons living in Europe will be locked out of UK by 'inhumane' law
Immigration is a very sensitive issue to British people, and minds can become inflamed by stark headlines that bear little resemblance to the truth in many cases. One specific area, and a potential casualty of future legislation is family reunification.
 
While the government talks of “tightening up” immigration rules, and “the removal of loopholes”, there is great danger in blanket legislation resulting in more unintended human casualties.
 
As was mentioned in the article on 5 October (Key victory for family rights of Britons returning to the UK from EU) the Immigration Bill potentially locks many Britons out of the UK because they would not be able to return home with their non-British partners in the future (The current deadline date is March 29th 2022).
 
Basic rights, such as those related to family reunification, should be able to withstand the assault of populism, otherwise they become nothing more than temporary arrangements.
 
'It is inhumane to force people to choose between which parents to support'
 
 
British citizens living in the EU have moved to live, love, study, take jobs, build businesses in the EU27, on the understanding that these rights were inviolable.
 
Without British in Europe's amendment 11, the Immigration Bill would impose severe restrictions affecting family reunification. Who could have foreseen these restrictions or conditions on returning to live in the UK, especially when Michael Gove claimed that “All your rights, all your privileges are carried on and respected”?
 
As can be seen from Hansard, families will be faced with impossible choices, as in the example of an elderly lady living in the UK, expecting to receive support in the form of part-time care from her daughter, who would be prepared to give it, provided her French husband were allowed to move with her to Britain.
 
How do you advise a couple currently living in the EU, one British and one an EU national, both with elderly parents, one side of the family in the UK and the other in an EU country? They will be faced with an impossible choice: not just where they should live after March 2022, but which parents they must decide to care for. It is surely inhumane to force people to choose between which parents to support?
 
'Prospect of separation from family is unbearable' 
 
 
Our families are multi-generational. A lot of young British people already have diminished rights as they are only covered by the Withdrawal Agreement as family members in some EU states. Those who have grown up in the EU are even more likely to have EU rather than British partners. They are being punished several times over, yet we are supposedly a global society! 
 
Looking at the financial requirements of the Immigration Bill; the minimum income requirements (MIR) are so demanding that as many as 40% of UK workers could not even reach them, and the non-British partner’s income can be taken into account only after six months, assuming he or she can get to the UK in the first place.
 
Older UK citizens living in the EU may be unable to reach the minimum income threshold. This would be discriminatory towards UK citizens living in the EU, imposed retrospectively on citizens who had no expectation that this choice might lie ahead.
 
We must not confine our consideration to just the financial impacts of separation, but the emotional, mental and physical hardship. If you want to bring elderly parents back to live in the UK, they are likely to be so much in need of care that they would probably be unfit to travel. 
 
The prospect of separation from family is for many, unbearable, yet, many are faced with making this stark choice – whether or not to return to support elderly relatives whilst leaving their own families behind.
 
'Brits are being exiled from the land of their birth'
 
This cannot be the true intention of this legislation, as it would be wrong and deeply unfair to put a deadline on British citizens living in the EU returning to the UK with their families.
 
The reality of the Government’s current position is to exile this finite group of British citizens from the land of their birth. Unless the end date is removed from the Bill, this right will be removed on 29th March 2022, creating impossible choices for thousands of families.
 
I can do no better than close with the wise words of Lord Judd: “Do we want to be a society based on compassion and concern, or to become a nation without a beating heart on humanitarian issues of this kind?”
 
Brexpats Hear Our Voice campaigns for the preservation of the rights of British nationals in the EU as well as support EU citizens in the UK

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BREXIT

IN FIGURES: How many Brits have had their post-Brexit residence status rejected?

Following Brexit, many Brits in Sweden had to apply for post-Brexit residence status to stay in Sweden. How many Brits have applied, how many were rejected, and what happened to those who weren't granted residence status?

IN FIGURES: How many Brits have had their post-Brexit residence status rejected?

Between November 2020 and December 2022, a total of 12,461 Brits applied for post-Brexit residence status to retain their rights to live in Sweden under EU law. Of these 12,461 applications, 11,495 had been concluded by the end of 2022, with 966 still waiting for a response.

How many applications were approved?

According to Migration Agency figures seen by The Local, a total of 9,340 applications for post-Brexit residence status were approved between December 2020 and December 2022, meaning that more than four in five, 81.25 percent, of applications for residence status processed in this time period were granted.

The number of applications approved per month corresponded almost exactly to the number of applications submitted per month, with the most approvals (3,178) occuring in December 2020. December 2020 also saw the highest number of submissions: 3,529. There was another small peak in December 2021, where 432 of a total of 775 applications were rejected.

These two peaks in application numbers are probably due to the fact that December 2020 was the month when applications opened and December 2021 the last month before they closed.

How many applications were rejected?

A total of 2,155 applications for post-Brexit residence status were rejected between November 2020 and December 2022.

This means that around 18.75 percent of applications for post-Brexit residence status were rejected in this time period.

Again, the highest number of rejections occured in December 2020, with another peak in December 2021, where 223 applications were rejected.

 

Why were applications rejected?

When The Local contacted the Migration Agency for more information on why applications were rejected, press officer Frederik Abbemo was unable to give us exact information on the number of cases rejected for each possible reason.

However, he was able to give us a rough idea of the most common reasons for rejection.

"The most common reasons applications were rejected were incomplete applications, late applications, applications where the applicant did not fulfil the requirement for residence status, and applications listed as 'reason unknown', where we cannot see in the statistics why the application has been categorised that way," he said.

What about people who appealed their applications?

According to Abbemo, around 450 of the 2,155 rejected applications were appealed to the Migration Court (Migrationsdomstolen). Of these 450 appeals, "around 20" were overturned, with the applicants being granted residence status.

It is not clear how many of those who appealed, if any, are yet to receive a verdict.

What has happened to the Brits who had their applications rejected?

It's difficult to know exactly what has happened in each individual case, but we can draw some conclusions based on other data.

For example, new figures from Eurostat earlier this month showed that Sweden has ordered 1,050 Brits to leave the country following Brexit - more than any other EU country. This number includes Brits refused entry at the Swedish border, Brits found to be illegally present in Sweden, and Brits ordered to leave for other reasons.

The Eurostat figures cover a slightly different time period than the figures from the Migration Agency above, stretching from January 2021 to September 2022.

If we focus on Migration Agency figures for the same period, January 2021 to September 2022, a total of 1,857 people had their applications for residence status rejected in this time period. This suggests that at least 800 Brits who did not receive residence status were able to stay in Sweden in other ways.

One way of staying in Sweden legally despite not being granted residence status could be by holding a valid residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) under different rules (such as due to being in a relationship with a Swede or applying for a work permit), or by holding Swedish citizenship, which also gives you the right to live in Sweden.

Could the EU figures include people who never applied in the first place?

Yes. The Eurostat figures also include Brits living in Sweden illegally who never applied for post-Brexit residence status, who receive an order to leave when detected by the Swedish authorities.

Many are indeed unaware of the fact that they should have applied and that their stay in Sweden is illegal, and have simply not realised that their permanent right of residence under EU law (permanent uppehållsrätt) ceased to be valid when the UK left the EU.

A number of people in this category are detected when they leave the country and re-enter (like what happened to Brit Stuart Philpott in this article), and others only discover they are living here illegally when they receive an order to leave from the Migration Agency.

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