EU expats in UK at risk of deliberate government hostility post Brexit

Published:  17 Jan at 6 PM
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Leading immigration lawyers are sending a disturbing message suggesting possible deliberate governmental hostility to EU citizens living and working in Britain after Brexit.

According to the Guardian, an immigration specialist lawyer with London firm Kingsley Napley is suggesting the possibility of a nightmare scenario for expats in the UK should Britain go for a hard Brexit. Andrew Tingley suggests the government might well decide those who were resident in the UK pre-referendum have no right to remain.

Tingley is concerned about the Home Office’s seemingly deliberate hostile policy when dealing with long-stay expats wishing to exercise their rights by gaining permanent residency. Recent media reports of Home Office hard-lining involving expats whose circumstances permit citizenship aren’t helping to allay the fears of thousands who wish to stay in the UK after Brexit.

Stated government policy is favourable towards the three million EU citizens in Britain, although it’s regarding their rights as simply capital to be used in negotiations with the EU. The Home Office has also stated it cannot consider the rights of EU expats unless all EU member states respect the rights of UK expats living overseas.

Immigration lawyers believe a no-deal for UK expats would not automatically result in a mass deportation of EU expats, but suspect Britain’s 1971 Immigration Act might be used to render their positions untenable. According to Tingley, the Home Office lacks the manpower to obey parliament, leaving the issue to banks, landlords, employers and airlines.

The worst scenario would be that, immediately Brexit comes into full effect, EU expats would be left without bank accounts, jobs and homes, as they would no longer have rights to residency. The present outsourcing of immigration enforcement by the Home Office to the controversial service provider Capita has resulted in many non-EU expats being refused and hassled by hourly phone calls telling them to leave.

Nicholas Hatton, founder of the 3Million group campaigning for EU expat rights, states the present situation is causing anxiety and high levels of stress in the EU expat community. The permanent residency application form, 85 pages long, requires box-loads of documentation stretching back five years and including P60s, plus a diary noting every time the expat has left the UK temporarily since settlement. One applicant was refused due to his accidental failure to tick just one box, and was told to leave the country as a result.
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