Letter: Confusion and an administrative quagmire for EU citizens living in the UK

The present passport for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA Wire.

The present passport for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA Wire. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

For EU citizens who had been offered the right to remain in the UK the Government has failed to 'take back control', explains Paul Stein.

In June 2017 TNE printed my letter responding to Theresa May's 'fair and generous offer' to EU citizens living in the UK. Given that my wife entered the UK in 1979, before Finland joined the EU in 1995, and only ever had a blurred stamp in her passport as proof she had been granted 'Indefinite Leave to Remain', I concluded that the inevitable application for permanent residency status, 'will be accompanied by a frustratingly inefficient administrative process for which there will be a charge'.

In the 10 months since writing to you I have discovered that I would not have to wait for Brexit to experience confusion. The paper chase has gone like this:

1. I write to my MP explaining that I have read the government position paper 'Safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU' but cannot see how it helps, and point out that we no longer have my wife's Finnish passport, which was made useless in 1995.

2. Reply from Baroness Anelay, Minister of State for Exiting the EU. It suggests I read 'Safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU' (!) followed by well-meaning but platitudinous comments about valuing EU citizens and the contribution made by migrants.

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3. Another reply, this time from Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Immigration. It suggests we submit the Finnish Passport and make a 'No Time Limit' (NTL) application for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Details of government website links are given for us to use.

4. I respond by pointing out that, as previously stated, I do not have the passport. I provide a long and detailed account of the frustrating and ultimately fruitless attempt to follow up on the websites.

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5. Another reply, from my MP, who has now secured an undertaking from the Home Office to take up my wife's personal case. All we need to do is provide some personal details and the Finnish passport number...

6. I respond by pointing out that, as previously stated, we do not have the passport. I provide details including when and where my wife presented herself to Immigration in 1979.

7. A reply from the Immigration Service explaining that it is unable to locate the relevant records because 'the application predates our electronic records and we no longer have the Home Office file'. There follows a repeat of the government website links we have previously been unable to follow up on, along with the suggestion that we 'could seek advice from a qualified immigration adviser'.

We decided we had reached the end of the line. We will just have to wait and face up to the confusion and administrative quagmire that will follow March 2019.

In short, this is another example of where the Brexit claim 'we are taking back control' continues to beg the questions 'how, with what and did we ever have it?'

Paul Stein, Pickering

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