UK expats in EU now at risk due to British mishandling of EU residents.

Published:  27 Nov at 6 PM
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A recently-released report on Britain’s poor handing of the EU Settlement Scheme risks leaving UK expats living and working in EU member states in an even worse position.

If just one important issue has been made brutally clear by EU member states as regards UK expats living in Europe, it’s that of reciprocity – meaning that if EU citizens get shafted, so will their UK equivalents living in Europe. The survey undertaken by Migrant Voice has revealed a significant minority of EU citizens resident in the UK are having serious issues with Britain’s EU Settlement Scheme, both at the application stage and in unreasonable delays as well as bad decisions by the Home Office. Those whose complaints haven’t been resolved by the time one of two possible deadlines kick in will be seen as illegals and face deportation.

Problems already experienced by applicants include having to prove further evidence of their time of residency in the UK, causing anger in those who’ve worked and paid taxes over a decade or more. Technical glitches in apps and the difficulty of communication with the Home Office and its so-called Resolution Centre seem farcical to applicants, and women who’ve changed their surnames on marriage as well as transgender expats are either scared or being hassled.

Other long-stayers are angry at the need to apply simply to be able to stay in their own homes, and a good few are fearful they’ll face difficulties when they do apply. One expat with a mental disability is leaving the UK rather than face applying to stay and another said he had contemplated suicide. The survey also revealed EEA nationals’ family members are facing extended waiting times, and many are angry that the government’s data policy allows sharing of applicants’ details with worldwide private and public organisations.

The survey is accessible for EU member states, many of which have reassured British expat residents they won’t be kicked out the minute Brexit is a done deal. However, the rider in every single foreign governmental reassurance statement has been ‘reciprocity’ – and it now remains to be seen what their reactions are to this damning report. One thing's for sure, the UK process doesn’t in any way resemble its publicity statements and may lead to chaos in Europe’s UK expat communities.
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