Europeans residing in the United Kingdom have to face the bureaucratic monster of the British administration. Two French researchers, based in Oxford, tell.
Two Frenchmen in Brexit country
About one hundred kilometers northwest of London, the city of Oxford, renowned for its prestigious university, is an anti-Brexit stronghold: 70% of its inhabitants voted for the retention in the European Union during the referendum of 2016. In office since September at the French House of Oxford, Agnès Alexandre-Collier and Thomas Lacroix deliver for The world their gaze of researchers and French nationals settled for two years with their families.
Ouh, it's good. Thomas and his companion received a message from the Ministry of the Interior, their Pre-settled has been validated. For six months, a topic of conversation is common among Europeans residing in the United Kingdom: how to get the right to stay after December 31, 2020, chop date from which they will be considered foreigners like the others?
Europeans who have been in the United Kingdom for less than five years can apply for a pre-installation permit (Pre-settled)valid for five years and giving the possibility of applying for a residence permit at the end of this period (Settled). For those who have been living in the United Kingdom for more than five years, it is possible to apply directly for this permanent residence permit. The request is made by an application on smartphone, preferably a recent Android (iPhone owners have had to wait almost a year to have a specific application). You need a biometric passport and a phone that can read its chip (most recent devices allow it), as well as proof of residency. If you have all this and you cross all the unexplained technical bugs (Agnès, who anyway returns to France in the summer of 2020, gave up her request, she never received the validation code which must close the session), you have to wait three to fifteen days for the reply from the Home Office.
Otherwise, you need to go to a nearest specialized office, usually in the town hall of your town, where they have a phone supposed to work, but … sometimes paying. And if it still does not work, you are asked to send your passport and original documents … at your own risk.
Opaque bureaucratic monster
Sometimes additional documents are requested, sometimes the request for settled share is refused and the person is assigned a status of Pre-settled. This is the case of Anna, who has lived in Oxford for twenty-five years, an anthropologist, former employee of a non-governmental organization (NGO), a former social worker, but who has not been able to work for three years because of of a disabling disease. She does not know why her request was refused, no explanation was given. The administration asks her today to prove that she has been living on British soil for more than six months a year since 2013. For her, who does not keep any bills for a long time, she has to go and get bank statements and other documents from the bank. various institutions.
The press regularly reports the testimony of people who do not know why they are denied
This is the cause of the anxiety of Europeans: dealing with the Home Office, a kind of opaque bureaucratic monster from which we never know what to expect. The press regularly reports the testimony of people who do not know why they are being refused, such as the French baker in Bath (Somerset County) for thirty-one years, or the Polish chef who works for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. . And yet these are only relatively young and active people.
What about those who can not go to the end of the procedure because of their precariousness? Women who had to leave home after a break-up and were unable to take any papers with them, people without bank accounts who receive their income in cash? What can be said about those who do not even know that they need a residence permit, such as those older people without access to the Internet or those who have been living in the UK for so long that they do not think they are concerned? ?
600% increase in European passport applications
The residence permit procedure appears as a potential trap, a means of identifying those who will have to be deported, such as the homeless-fixed. What is looming is a new "Windrush" scandal for Europeans after Brexit: an expulsion from those who have not been able to get their papers in time, whatever their activity and their integration into British society.
After 31 December 2020 – or at the latest on 30 June 2021 if the withdrawal agreement ends up being adopted – the unregulated Europeans will fall foul of the "hostile environment policy", official name of the British policy which targets irregular immigrants and obliges administrative services, employers, landowners and civil society organizations to trace back to the Ministry of the Interior the situation of the foreigners they receive, employ or harbor.
A source of anxiety, which many British people share on the continent: the number of applications for a European passport has increased by 600% between the referendum (June 2016) and now (6,000 applications in 2015, against 30,000 today (hui) … Freedom of movement is definitely a good to protect.