"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

'‘They just vanish’: whistleblowers met by wall of complacency over missing migrant children' (Guardian)

This is horrific.

'As scores of youngsters are disappearing from hotels run by the Home Office and being trafficked across the country, sources claims warnings over their safety were ignored'

...

'“Most of the children disappear into county lines,” he said, referring to the predatory gangs who run drugs from a city to other parts of the country. “The Albanian and Eritrean gangs pick them up in their BMWs and Audis and then they just vanish.”'

More :

Why isn't this a much bigger scandal?

'Is life in the UK really as bad as the numbers suggest? Yes, it is' https://archive.ph/Cv74A#selection-1361.0-1361.66 (FT)
Quotes :
'The British economy is in a generation-long slough of despond, a slow-burning economic catastrophe. Real household disposable income per capita has barely increased for 15 years.
This is not normal. Since 1948, this measure of spending power reliably increased in the UK, doubling every 30 years. It was about twice as high in 1978 as in 1948 and was in touching distance of doubling again by 2008, before the financial crisis intervened. Today, it’s back at those pre-crisis levels.'
'... There are also subtler indicators of chronic economic disease. Consider the public finances. In an ideal world, governments offer their citizens low taxes, excellent public services and falling national debt. In normal circumstances, we can’t have it all. Right now, we can’t have any of it.'
... A large survey conducted by the Resolution Foundation in late November found that about a quarter of people said they couldn’t afford regular savings of £10 a month, couldn’t afford to spend small sums on themselves, couldn’t afford to replace electrical goods and couldn’t afford to switch on the heating when needed. Three years ago, only an unlucky few — between 2 and 8 per cent — described themselves as having such concerns over spending. More than 10 per cent of respondents said that at times over the previous 30 days, they’d not eaten when hungry because they didn’t have money for food.'
Also :
'Revealed: Brits are paying the highest electricity bills in the entire world' https://www.cityam.com/revealed-brits-are-paying-the-highest-electricity-bills-in-the-entire-world/  (City AM)
'Ambulance response times worst on record as A&E waits hit new highs' https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jan/12/ae-patients-in-england-waiting-over-12-hours-top-50000-for-first-time (Guardian)
'Excess deaths in 2022 among worst in 50 years' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-64209221 (BBC)
'Half of NHS trusts providing or planning food banks for staff' https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/08/nhs-trusts-hospitals-food-banks-for-staff-nurses (Guardian)


Monday, 16 January 2023

Human Rights Watch Issues Damning Verdict for UK

'...Human Rights Watch highlighted several laws introduced in 2022 that had the effect of significantly weakening human rights protections. The UK government introduced laws that stripped rights of asylum seekers and other vulnerable people, encouraged voter disenfranchisement, limited judicial oversight of government actions, and placed new restrictions on the right to peaceful protest. '

Speaking of which, from this year UK voters will need ID to vote. If you have it, don't lose your right to vote! - More info on the Electoral Commission website. 


Thursday, 12 January 2023

Voter id

'From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections.

This will apply to:

Local elections
Police and Crime Commissioner elections
UK parliamentary by-elections
Recall petitions 
From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections'

Monday, 9 January 2023

Some small green shoots.

Visit visa processing times seem to be improving. 

And priority may be introduced soon as an option for all new applications according to emails seen by me and reliable contacts close to the source.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Call to action - candidates

Thanks to all those who have lobbied so far! If you haven't, read our Call to Action here : https://britcits.blogspot.com/2022/12/call-to-action-in-light-of-recent-media.html

Just a quick note. Not all the candidates are announced yet so a lot of this is case by case and may require some research in some cases, but LabourList are maintaining updates here : https://labourlist.org/category/seats-selections/
 

Thank you!

Monday, 2 January 2023

NHS spending dropped off a cliff

On another note but not unrelated, actually very related - We still hear both the media and individuals (sometimes unfortunately on social media) attempting to blame the state of the NHS on bureaucracy, or 'too many managers', 'woke'/diversity/inclusion, or 'elf n safety', or foreigners using it (despite the dependance of the NHS on foreign workers), or whatever else is the scapegoat de jour. 

The reason is actually much simpler: lack of investment as a government policy in the last 12 years as the numbers show, eroding the UK's state capacity - penny wise and pound foolish, leading to inevitable further costs (human and financial) down the line. Capital investment fell off a cliff.

Charts via the revolutionary lefties at the Financial Times  : https://www.ft.com/content/b2154c20-c9d0-4209-9a47-95d114d31f2b 





Sunday, 1 January 2023

Snap election this year?

According to the Guardian, ( https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/jan/01/welsh-labour-general-election-mark-drakeford-interview ), Labour is readying for a possible snap election this year - i.e. possibly within months :
'Mark Drakeford claimed the Conservative government in Westminster was “staggering”, and that at any moment it could be “overwhelmed” and forced to call a snap UK election.'

This adds to the urgency and need to engage opposition parties who may form the next government soon - hopefully before Braverman has time to put any plans to increase MIR into action. Please lobby them!

Thank you so so much for those who have responded to the BritCits call to action so far. Looking at the spike in views, it has been quite a few people.


At this point nothing is guaranteed - but doing nothing isn't an option either.

Please lobby them!

Thank you. Happy New Year.


Thursday, 29 December 2022

Personal finance flowchart

I know a lot of people are struggling with finances as they go through the visa process, and this is now more true than ever.

The subreddit ukpersonalfinance has shared this 'personal finance' flowchart which I think gives excellent advice on options available to manage personal finances at any level : https://ukpersonal.finance/flowchart/

I recommend it and think it's very useful to anyone no matter where they are on this flowchart.

(Just a note here that some care needs to be taken with those using savings e.g. to apply for a spouse visa under Cat D as the savings must be -instantly- accessible - this doesn't contradict the advice in the chart, but it's something to bear in mind!).

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

'Seven bits of bad news that dripped out while people were scoffing mince pies ' https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/seven-bits-bad-news-dripped-28822205  -  raising the minimum income requirement is in there. Good to see the Mirror covering this in a way which frames it as the bad news it is, especially given the Mirror's profile among Labour supporters.

Call to action! Lobby your candidates! Don't forget! : https://britcits.blogspot.com/2022/12/call-to-action-in-light-of-recent-media.html

Tuesday, 27 December 2022

CALL TO ACTION

In light of recent media coverage regarding a potential increase in the spouse/fiance/partner minimum income requirements, (see : https://britcits.blogspot.com/2022/12/this-is-important-post-there-is-media.html ) we are requesting that all our supporters write to MPs and where possible parliamentary candidates in their constituency as follows.

Note that parties many constituencies have not yet chosen their candidates - it's ok, where possible you can write to the local party or the MP, or check back and write back where chosen.

You can identify and write to your local MP using these tools - https://www.writetothem.com/ or https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons or https://www.theyworkforyou.com/

Labour candidates for the next election where chosen can be found using this tool when available - https://vote.labour.org.uk/

Liberal Democrats - https://www.libdems.org.uk/in-your-community

We expect Greens will share their candidates here - https://www.greenparty.org.uk/find-your-local-party.html

We also encourage people to share with trade unions they belong to.
This is just a template - please do feel free to modify with your own story!
----

Dear <candidate name>,

As a voter in the constituency you want to represent in Parliament, I am writing to you with what I want you and any future Government to address in creating a fair immigration policy.

Since 2012, many reforms have been introduced with a view to creating a 'hostile environment' towards those who come here from overseas. This includes not only migrants - but also British people with overseas families - spouses, partners, children, dependant relatives. I believe the vast majority of people who come to the UK want to actively take part in their local communities, and contribute to wider British society. Current immigration policies are undermining their ability to feel welcome and are increasing social divisions.

In particular, I want to highlight the rules around spousal/partner/family visas which have caused division for many UK families.
- The minimum income requirement, introduced in 2012, was set far higher than the vast majority of developed nations, at a level which close to 40% of the UK population - higher among women and in many regions - could not hope to meet. This has caused many people to have to choose between exile or family division.
- This has also caused untold mental health and financial harm to thousands of families - including small children at vulnerable points in their lives - as they struggle to meet the requirement.
- As well as family impact, contrary to stated reasoning that they promote integration and the economy, the legacy of these rules is of family division - and of in fact harming the economy through forcing people into single parenthood and denying the economy hardpaying workers and taxpayers who will support their families and the country as a whole.
- As well as this, partner visa fees have spiralled since 2012 - the cost for the whole process, not including legal fees, approach £15,000 - £20,000 - prohibitively expensive, far more than most people can afford! All in support of a policy which just divides families, harming society and the economy.
- Furthermore, I would like to highlight that family policies around adult dependant relatives are nearly impossible to meet regardless - a ban masquerading as a rule - the impact on families is truly multi-generational.

<those impacted may want to include a bit about their stories here>

Now I hear through the media (Times article 26 December 2022) that the government wishes to set this even higher - details are vague right now - seemingly in an endless quest to divide even more families and cause even more misery!

As a nation, our history of tolerance, openness and compassion is being undermined by the politics of fear and division. I want to see an end to arbitrary and short-sighted immigration policies that feed into the creation of an unwelcoming environment for families and ultimately are unsustainable.

A step that can be taken immediately to improve the immigration system and resolve some its biggest problems is simply to commit to protecting the right to a family life for British residents and their families, wherever they come from :
- abolishing rather than increasing the cruel minimum income requirement
- cutting fees to a humane and affordable level while ensuring an appropriate service level
- making the regime 'family friendly' and not 'hostile'

I believe we need an open and honest public discussion about migration and families and that the British public is crying out for one. And I believe the next Government can and must do better.

I would ask you to carefully consider this call for change and incorporate this into your work.

Yours sincerely,

<name>

*** This is an important post - there is media coverage of the MIR possibly increasing - this is an opptunity for those potentially affected to push back

Brace yourselves.


Times :
'Under a draft of the proposals, seen by The Times, the government would increase the minimum income threshold for British citizens applying for a family visa for a spouse or children.'
Express :
Her new blueprint would see the government pushing up the minimum income threshold for British citizens applying for a family visa for a spouse or children.

Forewarned is fore-armed. I think this is likely to be a race against time given the election may be coming up in a year or so.

So I'm sharing this so people can 
- write to Labour / Lib Dem / other opposition candidates in your area to ask them to re-affirm their commitment to ditching the MIR, if and when there is a change of government (it's unlikely the Conservatives will do this, but Labour or a coalition which includes Labour may - you will need to know your constituency and then identify local political parties)
- engage trade unions you belong to (this is likely to be very important in this time of discontent)
- engage with other community groups 

Also
- if you are considering the spouse/partner visa process, you may want to bring your plans forward *before* the MIR increases. On past experience (2012 rules) bridging arrangements may apply so that people currently in the process at the point the thresholds/rules change will be considered under the old arrangements. 
This is what happened to those who got their applications in before the MIR was introduced in 2012, so if this happens, you'll kick yourself if you delay.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Stitched with Love - Coventry Cathedral - Workshop 3rd December and display throughout December 2022


Our friend Phavine - a non-UK spouse herself - has put together this project with the crafting contributions of members of online communities impacted by the UK's family rules. It looks fantastic and I'd encourage anyone who can to try to make it. (Who knows, you may even see me at some point).

Coventry Cathedral itself, of course, rebuilt from the ruins after World War 2, is a symbol of international reconciliation and harmony (for all religions and none). So it's hard to think of a better location for this.

Phavine says :

“Stitched with Love” is a collaborative quilt making project, initiated by Phavine Phung, a doctoral researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London, with participation from a community of families who faced separation due to the Hostile Environment in the UK family visa system. 


We are pleased to invite you to the launch of our “Stitched with Love: Stories of Family Migration” exhibition and a crafting workshop on 03 December 2022. The event will take place at the Lady Chapel, Coventry Cathedral (Priory St, Coventry, CV1 5AB). 


On the 03 December 2022, we will be running a crafting workshop from 12-4pm. This drop-in workshop will provide a slow-paced atmosphere where participants can share experiences or learn from other’s experiences of immigration while stitching a quilt together. No prior skills are needed. Tea and biscuits will be served. This is followed by a panel discussion at 4:30-5:30pmThe panel will consist of speakers who have personal experiences with the UK family visa system and immigration practitioners from local organisations. Both events are free. 


The exhibition will be open for the public to view from 01-31 December 2022


For further information, please visit:   www.stitchedwithlovequilt.wordpress.com

Instagram: stitchedwithlove_quilt 

Email: stitchedwithlovequilt@gmail.com


We look forward to seeing you at the event! 



Related : Summer of Love


Sunday, 30 October 2022

House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee


Many thanks to our friend Rebecca for appearing in front of the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee. This was part of the family migration inquiry which BritCits helped to contribute to via the University of Sheffield's Centre for Care. We are happy to be working with Sheffield and were grateful to facilitate a representation based on the request from the Lords.

All three witnesses gave compelling and moving testimony as to the impact of the family migration rules on their families, in different ways - across generations.

You can watch the session here. And a transcript will be available in due course.

(Our trustee, Steve, was also present - but you can't see him because he's off camera :) ). 

(Our friend, Ella of the group Reunite Families UK, also contributed to this inquiry and you can read a piece on that here). 



Updated 8/Nov/2022 : The transcript is available here. 



Monday, 17 October 2022

Deaths of children with no recourse to public funds

Deaths of children with no recourse to public funds

Author/Source : Via Andy Jolly, Twitter

Thread and article about about deaths of children with no recourse to public funds : https://twitter.com/andy_jolly/status/1580620356318294017 + https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/chso.12646 

 This is an important, shocking piece. 

 From the abstract : 'This paper reviews 26 reports into deaths and serious abuse of children in families who were subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rule. Our analysis illustrates vulnerabilities caused by exclusionary policies, exacerbating social deprivation and isolation experienced by the children and families and making it more difficult for professionals to respond in ways which safeguarded children's welfare. Drawing upon a social model for protecting children that requires recognition of the social determinants of harm and the economic, social and cultural barriers faced by families, we examine the experiences of children and families with NRPF who were the subject of a serious case review, and the responses of agencies responsible for safeguarding child welfare. We conclude with recommendations for practices aimed at promoting the rights and well-being of children and families subject to NRPF rules.' 

 From the conclusion : 'Our analysis of SCRs suggests that the NRPF rule was a barrier to ensuring that the children were cared for safely. Children experienced situations such as hunger and homelessness which directly resulted from their NRPF status, and support services did not always understand the implications of the NRPF rule for safeguarding children. The current child protection system in England focuses on the harm caused by parental action or inaction, with less attention given to social determinants of harm, and therefore is unable to consistently safeguard the welfare of children who are subject to immigration control.'

Friday, 4 June 2021

‘Fall in love at your own peril’: Forcing British citizens to leave the UK

By Melanie Griffiths, Sonel Mehta and Candice Morgan-Glendinning


Every aspect of my life right now is completely curtailed by the government. I can’t do anything’


British citizens are denied autonomy over decisions where to live and establish their families when the person they fall in love with is not British or Irish. For these citizens, the State muscles into a very private part of their lives, whether that be through questioning the genuineness of relationships, the stringent and conditional spousal visa rules or heartless deportation system. Rather than treat these citizens as rational agents able to make independent decisions about their families, they are treated as deceptive, gullible or irresponsible, and the motives of their partners questioned.

‘They don’t see you as people, they see you as numbers.’

For those couples unable to meet immigration requirements or persuade a decision maker of their need to live in the UK as a family, the ‘choices’ they are given are to live apart in different countries or to leave the UK. The justification for this drastic infringement on citizens’ rights is the abstract concept of the ‘public interest’. The Immigration Act 2014 brought into statute that families do not always need to be situated in the UK. The Immigration Directorate Instructions states that the European Convention on Human Rights does not oblige the UK to accept the choice of a couple as to which country they would prefer to reside in’.

New research headed by Dr Melanie Griffiths being launched by the Universities of Bristol and Birmingham on the 8 June 2021 looks at how British citizens and their foreign national partners are faced with this ‘choice’ of separation or relocation. Drawing on interviews with couples and practitioners, including some BritCits members, the ‘Deportability and the Family’ project looks at the human impact of immigration policies that have eroded Article 8 rights to respect for private and family life.


Spousal Visas

Since 2012, spousal visas have been conditional on the British spouse earning a steady annual income of £18,600 (increasing with each non-British child). The sum can only be met by the British partner. It is above the minimum wage and disproportionately affects women, young workers, retirees, black and ethnic minorities and those living outside the more affluent south.

For those who manage to meet the income threshold, the spousal visa process is still long, ominous and expensive, with a high evidential burden to prove income and genuineness of relationships. Some couples spend years submitting applications and appealing negative decisions and thousands of pounds in applications and legal fees before securing this time-limited leave, meaning they have to apply all over again in 2.5 years.

Many families do not have the time, money or energy to keep battling the Home Office and end up leaving the UK so as to be together or living separated transnationally. Long-distance relationships over two time zones are draining and expensive, with particular impacts on children separated from a parent. The British spouses in the research described being forced into living as single-parent families. As a mother separated from her husband across borders said:

I can’t be a wife, a mother, work, cook and clean,  plus trying to figure out how I’m going to get this money for a spousal visa.’

 

Removal and deportation

It is not only the spousal visa that keeps British citizens living abroad or apart from their loved ones. Due to re-entry bans and visa restrictions, those removed from the UK face permanent separation from their families.

Couples need to reach extremely high legal thresholds to prove that a partner/parent should not be deported and to prove that the family cannot live in their country of removal. A family’s preference of where to live or standard of education or living is not considered justification to remain. Such families are presented the same ‘choices’ as those unable to secure spousal visas: live in separate countries or relocate out of the UK. As a mother whose husband was removed asked:

‘The whole family needs to move to another country, when you could just let one person stay?!’













            Photo by @angelacompagnone on Unsplash


Impact of separation

Challenging the immigration system and fighting to remain together impacts the whole family. Living under chronic insecurity, facing separation or relocation, with restricted access to employment and services, and high immigration costs, leads to extreme harm to people’s private lives, relationships, careers, finances, stability and physical and mental health. The British partner often has to work excessive hours or multiple jobs. Those whose partner is overseas may have to rely on expensive childcare or be forced out of work.

British children are collateral damage in these immigration decisions. The research included families where children had been separated from fathers for many years, only speaking through Skype or occasional visits overseas. Most had spent time living together, to then experience loss and separation, and often eventual distancing. Children experienced a range of developmental, behavioural, educational and emotional problems including depression, anxiety, social isolation, insomnia and feeling of not belonging in the UK. As one mother stated:

Yes, we’ve got WhatsApp and Facetime, but it’s not the same as that person being there.’


A national loss

The Home Office presents decisions around family life as a choice but this is not most people’s experience. Those living outside the UK often described their situation as forced exile and questioned what their citizenship really meant. All were shocked that they did not have the automatic right to live with a partner of their choice, challenging their sense of identity and belonging.

A government focus on reducing net migration has led to a loss of focus on the people impacted by these policies. The government must acknowledge the benefits of inward migration and what settled and stable families bring to society.  As one of the British interviewees said:

‘It is really shocking to be told that you can go and continue your family life outside of the UK. Why does my government feel like that when I’m an asset to them?

I’ve been educated in the UK. I’m a taxpayer. I’ve got a career.

Since the UK left the EU, more citizens will find themselves in these situations. More British people will be divided from the person they love or forced to leave their community and country to live with them. As one interviewee stated:

‘If you are a British citizen then falling in love with someone who is not British isn’t allowed to happen basically.’


Report launch 8 June

The report from the project is being launched during an online webinar at 4pm on 8 June 2021, in collaboration with the NGO Bail for Immigration Detainees, chaired by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti and with speakers including Sonali Naik QC and a person directly affected by these issues.  All those who register here will be able to attend for free.  The report will be also be available afterwards here.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

New visa to allow UK nationals bring non-EEA family to Ireland

'A Department of Justice statement said UK citizens would continue to enjoy existing arrangements under the Common Travel Area including the freedom to live and work in the State after the transition period following the UK’s exit from the EU ends later this month.' Erin go bragh. Hopefully an option for some impacted by the horrible UK spousal and ADR visa rules.

Digging into this there is an MIR of about 20k euros attached to this, plus a waiting time of up to 6 months, so it's not as good as the Irish Times article makes it sound. However it may be particularly useful for those seeking to sponsor elderly dependent relatives (for example) which is subject to a 'ban masquerading as a rule' in the UK, albeit attached to a minimum income requirement with restrictive conditions.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Living Online and Covid Impact Report

Over the last few weeks, Reunite Families UK has conducted two online surveys ( here + here ) in response to two ongoing parliamentary inquiries: ‘Living online: the long-term impact on wellbeing’ (House of Lords Covid-19 Committee) and ‘Covid:lessons learnt’ (Health and Social Care Committee/Science and Technology Committee) with a view to creating a report to these inquiries.

The spouse visa minimum income requirement was introduced in 2012 and has resulted in the enforced division of thousands of British citizens from their non-EEA partners and families, either temporarily or indefinitely. This group of people – including members of Facebook groups such as Reunite Families UK and I Love My Foreign Spouse – have therefore anticipated in many cases the family division created by the pandemic, with many such relationships conducted largely online for months or years (the average family or partner separation time ranges from 3 months to 3 years, with some experiencing division for more than 5 years) and therefore this group of people have a special insight into how families divided might play out.

The report is here : https://www.scribd.com/document/484534378/RFUK-Living-Online-and-Covid-Impact-Report-sg, which includes the summary results of each survey (with numbers/data around the responses), plus some of the individual responses (left in comments sections of the surveys), and conclusions and policy and operational recommendations we think should be drawn as a result of these surveys, the 2012 rules, the pandemic and the future.

I hope you find it interesting – I found it both fascinating and moving, and interesting to try to quantify some of the impacts of the immigration rules on British families, which are as you may expect devastating for most of those who responded.

Many thanks to all those who participated as a result of the calls on social media. The report has been uploaded to the relevant inquiries. All identifying information has been removed.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Divided Families Campaign FAQ

Divided Families Campaign FAQ

A beginner's guide to Divided Families and what we've been going through....

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Total number of spouse visas processed and refused by selected nationalities, Q1 2020

Author: Steve

Following on from this post on spouse visas refused by selected nationalities in 2016 (the whole of 2016), I ran the same exercise for Q1 2020 today. The results look very very different. Take a look :

2020 Q1 Partner Visas Issued Refused Refusal Rate (ignoring withdrawals)
Singapore 28 0 0.0%
Albania 78 1 1.3%
Turkey 207 11 5.0%
UnitedStates 602 32 5.0%
HongKong 93 5 5.1%
Canada 115 7 5.7%
Thailand  237 15 6.0%
KoreaSouth 31 2 6.1%
Tunisia 44 3 6.4%
Russia 100 7 6.5%
Kenya 86 7 7.5%
Japan 61 5 7.6%
Egypt 72 6 7.7%
Brazil 116 10 7.9%
Bangladesh 627 56 8.2%
Pakistan 2321 207 8.2%
SouthAfrica 279 27 8.8%
China 92 10 9.8%
India 901 100 10.0%
Australia 172 20 10.4%
Philippines 322 41 11.3%
Jamaica 120 17 12.4%
Nigeria 392 65 14.2%
Israel 18 3 14.3%
Stateless 4 1 20.0%

The total number of applications seem more or less in line (bearing in mind the numbers last time where for a whole year, this is for a quarter) but also seem much much more equitable between the different nationalities.

What changed? The climate of work at the Home Office maybe? Maybe the departure of Theresa May has triggered some kind of cultural change? Whatever it is, it's encouraging.

Of course the minimum income requirement rules are still very very unfair but part of the issue has also been with the application of the rules; a more equitable application and less discrimination can only be a good thing.

Source for these stats :
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/managed-migration-datasets#entry-clearance-visas-granted-outside-the-uk tab Data - Vis_D02) + https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2020

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Stopping deportations

This video had me crying my eyes out.  The courage shown by this woman, despite being harassed by others - to stand up for what is right - is humbling.

I hope that were I or any of you readers to ever be on a plane where a forced deportation was taking place, we would also do the right thing.  I am beyond impressed.


Saturday, 24 March 2018

Settlement Scheme

After months of various MP's speaking of the settlement scheme it was their intention for EU citizens and their family members - including those who fall under Surinder Singh - to use to legitimise their ongoing stay in the UK, we have finally received a little bit of clarification as to what this scheme entails:

"As Brexit negotiations continue, this is the latest information on the status of EU citizens in the UK and how you are affected.

You may have seen this week that the UK and the EU have now reached an agreement on what happens during the period immediately after Brexit, known as the implementation period. This is important as it will give citizens and businesses on both sides time to adjust before a new relationship with the EU is agreed. 

So, what has been agreed so far and how will you be affected?

EU citizens currently in the UK

The agreement on citizens’ rights reached in December has now been formalised into a draft Treaty text, meaning it is in the right form to be written into law.

The agreement means that if you are an EU citizen living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 you will be able to continue to live and work in the UK. Your rights to healthcare, work arrangements and access to benefits will continue. Also, your existing close family members will be able to join you in future in the same way that they can now. 


From this week, EU citizens in the UK have been seeing digital adverts encouraging you to ‘stay informed’. The activity is part of an ongoing effort by the Government to build awareness about the agreement to protect EU citizens’ rights ahead of the roll-out of the settlement scheme. As a member of this mailing list, you will continue to receive the latest information on how you are affected and what action you will need to take in future. 

Settlement scheme

If you are an EU citizen or family member already living in the UK, a user-friendly scheme to enable you to secure your settled status here will open later this year. But there is no rush – you will have up until 30 June 2021 to make your application.

We will provide more information on the scheme and how to apply in the coming months. 

You do not need to do anything further at this point.

Implementation period

The agreement we reached with the EU this week extends the citizens’ rights protections above to include EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK during the implementation period (from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). This ensures that those planning to come to the UK after March next year know what the arrangements will be. During this time, new arrivals will need to register through a new Home Office registration scheme after three months in the UK. 

More information is available at UK leaving the EU: what you need to know."

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Why does UK appear to be having such a hard time in Brexit negotiations?


Ron Mathot, a lecturer at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, has provided his view on the Brexit negotiations in response to a question on Quora.

It is very telling - and embarassing - that the position of UK politicians has been so unrealistic to begin with.


Settled status scheme for family members of Surinder Singhers ?


A freedom of information request by Claire, who has alerted BritCits to the response she received indicates Home Office 'intends' for family members of British citizens, here on the basis of having previously exercised free movement rights in another member state (Surinder Singh), to be eligible for UK's settled status scheme.

An intention isn't a commitment.  Given however that Phase 1 of the Withdrawal Agreement excludes family members of Surinder Singhers, this is some positive news.

What is the settled status scheme?  Our understanding is that this allows those who have lived in the UK for five years as at Brexit day, within the rules, to apply for permanent resident status.  For those who haven't quite reached the five year point on Brexit day, they will have the opportunity to apply for this status when they reach the five year point.

The details of this are not known; costs expected to be no more than that for a UK passport.

An extract of the response to the FOI request is shown below.  The full request is available here.



Friday, 16 February 2018

Withdrawal Agreement - Phase One

Withdrawal Agreement - Phase One

There is a lot of angst amongst EU and British citizens who have exercised their treaty rights to be in the UK with their family.  This is especially so for the family of Surinder Singhers who will reach the point of five years of residence after we exit from the EU.  

Hence, protection in the agreement UK and EU reach is important to ensure this group does not find itself in no man's land - like the family members of other EU citizens, this group too needs to be assured of a continuous right to stay.

BritCits has received several pieces of communication from the European Commission, Europe Direct Contact Centre and even their MP's on this issue - thank you to the lovely members who have shared this with us. 

This letter dated 10 August 2017, from former Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, sent to the constituent MP of a member, indicates that the UK government's proposal was for the family members of EU nationals, which includes British citizens, to be able to obtain settled status after five years.



It appears that the first phase of agreement reached excludes Surinder Singhers - this was confirmed in a letter sent on behalf of Michel Barnier:


A member also forwarded an email she received on 6 February 2018 which has more detail, especially at the links provided:

" Thank you for contacting the Europe Direct Contact Centre.
 

In response to your inquiry, we inform you that the overall objective of the Withdrawal Agreement with respect to citizens' rights is to provide reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights by the specified date (time of the UK's withdrawal - foreseen on 29 March 2019 unless the negotiation period of two years is extended by unanimous agreement of the European Council and the United Kingdom). This is a limited personal scope, which is the necessary consequence of the legal basis for this disentanglement process as set out in Article 50 TEU. UK nationals in scope of withdrawal agreement have protected rights in the state(s) in which they have residence rights on exit day, without prejudice to Social Security rights.
 

The common understanding reflected in the Joint Report means that both Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals, as well as their respective family members can continue to live, work or study as they currently do under the same conditions as under Union law, benefiting from the full application of the prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of nationality. The only restrictions which apply are those derived from Union law. Those who have not yet acquired permanent residence rights – if they have not lived in the host State for at least five years –will be fully protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, and be able to acquire permanent residence rights also after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.
 

The deal should protect all those family members who have lawfully resided with an EU citizen in the UK before Brexit. They will be allowed to stay but will have to apply for a new UK status (special status) and a new UK residence document.
 

Full details of the Commission's assessment are available in the Commission's Communication on the State of Progress of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/1_en_act_communication.pdf) as well as in the joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/joint_report.pdf).
 

Questions and Answers – the rights of EU27 and UK citizens post-Brexit, as outlined in the Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government can be downloaded here: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/2017-12-12_qa_citizens_rights_1.pdf
 

The latest information on the ongoing Article 50 TEU negotiation process and principles for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union can be obtained under the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/brexit-negotiations_en#latest
 

Furthermore, you can contact the authorities in the UK to clarify the status of your husband - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/status-of-eu-nationals-in-the-uk-what-you-need-to-know#agreement-on-rights-for-eu-citizens-and-their-families / https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-exiting-the-european-union
 

We hope you find this information useful. Please contact us again if you have other questions about the European Union, its activities or institutions."

A British citizen who raised his concern over the plight of Surinder Singhers directly with the Home Office got this reply on 9 February 2018:


 Communications between one of our member's and her MP, Anna Soubry, and that between Anna Soubry and Robin Walker, the Minister responsible for citizens rights' in the Department for Exiting the European Union.