We have already seen the second round of negotiations take place between the UK and the EU Brexit negotiation teams. The EU continue to push for citizens rights as preliminary to all other agreements. To put the EU team´s request into simple terms, they ask only that the EU citizens who are now living in the UK and the UK nationals resident in the other 27 states retain the citizens rights they have today. The U.K. recommendations would remove the most important of these rights. The UK team insists that EU nationals living in the UK with permanent or temporary residence will have to apply for settled status after the exit date. Proving that they are residents in the UK they would then apply to the home office for “settled status”. In Spain for example, we are automatically granted permanent residence after either five years of legal residence, or for some of those employed or self-employed in Spain after three years. Included are the rights such as for those married to a Spaniard or who have suffered disability due to work accidents and other exceptions, the full information can be found on our website.
The need for EU citizens in the UK to apply for settled status will be reciprocated in Spain affecting your acquired rights. You may already have permanent residence or making up the years to attain your permanent status. It must be clear to all that the agreements made between the UK and the EU will be reciprocal, in that the actions citizens in the UK will have to take, will be reciprocated here. Resulting in that all UK nationals with permanent or temporary residency status, will also have to reapply for settled status or as known here, ‘permanent status’. The application must be made within two years after the exit date of March 2019. Those who do not comply can be asked to leave. With reciprocity it would appear that the resident certificates issued at the central office for citizens from the EU community will only serve to prove the length of time that you have resided here. The application for settled status (permanent residence) in the UK requires citizens to fill out an application form of 85 pages. Presently UK citizens making their applications in Spain, fill out the EX18 a one sided A4 Application form.
We do not need changes made to a system that generally works well for us. We all know of the occasional difficulties faced by some residents in who have either updated an address, a change in circumstances, renewed an illegible certificate or made an application for a certificate which states “permanent residence”, have found that they have been asked to make a new application providing all the documentation as they did when first applying. This should not be the case. The civil servants at the foreigners offices should only ask for this information if they feel that that the applicant no longer meets the criteria for residency and may become a burden on the State. At present the only requirement for updating certificates should be to tick the relevant boxes on the EX18 application. Post Brexit with status changes Will ensure that the process becomes more difficult for the relevant offices and in turn for us the citizens. The 2004 EU Directive on freedom of movement has given us a simple procedure for all EU citizens and their families to apply for residency in any of the EU 28 countries.
With the requirements for the EU citizens in the UK to complete the 35 page application in the UK for settled status will Spain reciprocate? We can expect that to be the case. Providing the same information requested on the U.K. form to apply for residency status could prove difficult for residents in Spain. This would also give the Spanish authorities the right to deny continued residency status to those they consider no longer meet the criteria. Those who do not re-apply for their residency status within two years from the exit date can be asked to leave. We are not referring to new applicants post Brexit but that this new application process will be put in place, for all UK nationals who presently hold legal residency status in Spain as due to the UK’s recommendations that residency requirements should be reciprocal. This could adversely affect many who reside in Spain and whose circumstances may have changed. Some affected could be those families where the parents who are residents, had not made applications for the children’s residency. Some of these families whose circumstances have changed, have already been refused resident status for the children.
What can we do? I believe our only option is to make sure our voices are heard. I believe that we have not had the opportunity to put forward our opinions and concerns about our post Brexit residency status.
I have sent an email from the citizens Advice Spain to our ambassador in Spain asking for a meeting to discuss both Brexit and other matters of concern to us. I have not received a response. Though various consuls have held meetings with various remain or exit groups, we have not been invited. The majority of our members will be aware that the small team from the Citizens Advice Spain, work daily with the Spanish Royal Decrees and European Directives. I suggest that if anyone has the finger on the pulse on how residency, healthcare, pensions and all the other aspects of UK nationals living in Spain it is us.
As I said above, most have had no communication with either the UK government or with our embassy in Spain, I do though have contact with the Brexit negotiating team in Brussels. It seems odd that though CAB Spain is looking for support in relation to the status of U.K. residents in Spain, the only communication to date has been with the EU Brexit negotiating team who have responded to all my emails.
What can we do? I believe the only thing open to us at the moment is a voice. There should be an option for all nationals residing in Spain, for those who are pro or anti-Brexit, who will all be affected by the proposed changes in residency status. We all have an interest in our future post Brexit. It should not be the case but, from the proposals put forward by the U.K. team, it does appear that they do not understand our present rights regarding our residence in Spain. If they did surely they would not be proposing the loss of these rights! We should not forget that the agreements that will be made in the forthcoming months will most certainly affect all of those residing in Spain. I suggest that we are also looking for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK as the decisions made for them will affect all UK nationals living in the EU. as For all the reasons stated I think that we should be heard.
As U.K. nationals who used their treaty rights to reside in any EU country, wish to retain their acquired right of residency.
For all our members and friends who are in agreement with the above and are willing to put their name to a letter, please provide us with your full names at: firstname.lastname@example.org