A brilliant open letter to Theresa May from a fellow EU citizen
Life in the UK for EU citizens…January 2017. January 18, 2017 // 0
How do I feel ? Tired, very tired. Tired of worrying, tired of living in limbo, tired of hearing ,albeit well meaning, Brits telling me ‘ You will be fine. Don’t worry ! Nothing will change for you. You may have to apply for a visa , but that’s it ! And you have a half British daughter and a British partner too – nothing will happen to you !’ .
I wish it was that simple ! The future of EU citizens in the UK is still very much uncertain. There are various speculations about what may and may not happen, but let’s be clear about the facts here…there are no facts, there are no reassurances. Prior to the referendum , we all thought that after 5 years of living in the UK, we’d all be automatically eligible for Permanent Residence, because that is what we were told. Little did we know that when seeking confirmation of our Permanent Residence, that many of us, a whole 30% of us in fact, would be refused Permanent Residence. There was this little know issue of CSI , something that all students and stay-at-home mothers must have in order to be exercising their treaty rights. I read just today that an 18 year old man born and raised in Britain to Italian parents was refused Permanent Residence as he is a student and does not have CSI ! For crying out loud…No one was informed about this ! Others were turned down for other reasons, reasons that really does not make any sense at all. I contacted the Home Office under the Freedom Of Information act in order to get a breakdown of the reasons of why my native Swedes for example, have the highest refusal rate of all EU applications applying for Permanent Residence. But this information could not be provided.
How do you think it feels to be refused Permanent Residence ? It is beyond devastating . Many people turned down has lived in the UK for decades , they have British children and British spouses.
‘ But they are safe !’ I hear you say.
No, they are not !
Being the parent of a British child, or being married to a Brit makes no difference whatsoever in the eyes of the law. The stress, worry and anxiety that these people are feeling about theirs and their family’s future has such a detrimental effect on their health and their lives, and that of their family’s too. Children are asking their mum or dad if Mummy or Daddy will have to leave the country. Couples are having to re-think their whole lives and their futures, just in case they will be forced to leave.
I recollect a German lady visiting Germany with her family, enquiring what help may be available to her and her British husband and children, should they have to re-locate to Germany, and I was so touched by the response they received. They were told that there was a whole support network set up to help Germans returning to Germany, including free Skype German lessons to her British husband as well as any support that they could possibly need, should they decide to make that move. But for those who do not have the option to move for very valid reasons, they have to live with
that stress of knowing that they do not have an option. They don’t see why they should have to uproot their family and move to their native country that they left perhaps decades ago ,especially not if their partner and children are British and cannot speak another language.
I belong in that latter category myself. I have a half British teen born and raised in the UK who is choosing her GCSE’s, she’s excelling at school, all her friends are here, her father is here, and she can’t speak any Swedish. My partner is half British/Half Italian, and his business, just as mine, is here in the UK. Our lives are here ! But now the cloud that is hanging over us is ‘ Will my Permanent Residence application be successful ? What will we do if it’s not ?’ .
I am trying to put this worry to the back of my mind as the outcome of the application is not something that I can control. But sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when I hear of people who applied for Permanent Residence after me are getting their applications approved in record time !
Then there is the xenophobia that has become all the more evident since the referendum. The closet racists have all come out of their closets, thinking they are entitled to air their inflammatory views in public ,as after all, all the headlines in ‘The Daily Mail’, ‘The Sun’ and ‘ The Express’ has made it perfectly acceptable to do so , in their eyes. It’s not just EU citizens being affected, not at all, but immigrants from every corner of the globe. If you are not born and bred British, then you don’t belong here, is the message that is given out. I am well aware that only a small minority share those hateful views, but that minority is loud. A Danish man had the rear windscreen of his car smashed in, he had his garden wall smashed in, litter and dog poo thrown into his garden and rotten cheese on his door handle by a xenophobic neighbour. A Spanish woman suffered a barrage of racial abuse from another customer when popping into the chemist to collect her prescription, being told that she is a burden on the NHS and should go home to her own country. EU workers are being told by their colleagues to ‘ Go home !’. Then we have certain employers, landlords, letting agents etc. asking for proof of Permanent Residence.
Britain is still in the E.U ,and for the next 2 years at least, everything remains unchanged ! But people act as if though that fact is irrelevant. This is the life in the UK for EU citizens today. We contribute 2.7 billion annually to the British economy. We are just like you, but we are not treated like you.