Wednesday, December 8

‘My son misses his dad’: Brexit rules force families to divide | Brexit

A British woman has recounted how she had to separate her six-year-old son from his French father because post-Brexit rules prohibited her spouse from returning with her to the UK for a new job without prior approval from the Home Office.

After 11 years in France, the couple, who work in highly skilled jobs in the defense industry, decided to return to the UK and thought it would be as simple as hopping on a Eurostar train.

However, the Home Office no longer recognizes the EU family permit her husband used before Brexit and is now taking months to respond to requests for a British version.

Delays are dividing countless families, so a British parent can return to the UK and a non-British parent, whether a citizen of the EU or elsewhere, cannot.

The woman explained that she had no choice but to make the trip with her son because her new job began on September 6 and, although she expected a family leave for her husband within 15 days, two months after his application, she is still waiting. . for a response from the Ministry of the Interior.

She was so anxious to have her dual-national son denied entry because he has yet to obtain his British passport that she went so far as to instruct him to tell him that he would be going on vacation if questioned by immigration officials. He shipped his luggage separately to make it look like he wasn’t moving to another country. “I was so scared that they would tell me: ‘It seems to me that you are moving, no, I’m sorry, your son cannot come.’ My husband stayed driving through the Gare du Nord [station in Paris] just in case, ”he said.

“I became so paranoid that I sent my luggage in advance on a service operated by Eurostar and bought a return ticket because I had read that border officials turned people away if they suspected their intention was to stay in Britain. It was so stressful, so terrible, because we were afraid that my son would be rejected, ”she said.

She added: “To be honest, it is very difficult for my son. We try to take him lightly, just saying we’re going on vacation, but he misses his father. Now he’s saying, ‘I miss daddy, when can we see daddy, when can we see the dog?’ ”.

She also feels bad for her husband, who also quit his job in anticipation of his return to London. Aviation operations manager in the defense industry, you are now unemployed and may not be able to accept a new position in the UK while your application for a family leave is ongoing.

Brushed metal sign next to home office door
There are reports that the Interior Ministry, in some cases, takes six months to issue permits that are supposed to take only 15 days. Photography: Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA

Non-EU and now non-British spouses have to rely on a 1992 EU legal precedent known as the “Surinder Singh route” to live in the UK. The government promised that anyone returning to the UK from the EU and exercising their rights of free movement could return with a foreign spouse under this precedent.

However, before a spouse or permanent partner can apply to stay in the country, they must first be issued a family permit.

Alexander Finch, manager of the Fragomen immigration law firm, said: “In general, the EUSS [European Union settlement scheme] it has worked well for many Europeans. But it is a shame that applicants for Surinder Singh are taking too long. The withdrawal agreement requires the UK to deal with applications for family leave ‘on the basis of an expedited procedure’, which is not happening. “

He added that the UK also goes beyond the prerequisites to prove that the place of residence was indeed the EU. “It doesn’t help that the Home Office has chosen to go beyond the requirements of EU law and have ended up with a confusing definition of ‘genuine residence’.”

With Home Office reports taking six months to issue permits that are supposed to take just 15 days in some cases, according to government information, Smith and her husband have joined a growing number of parents facing potential divisions.

A young British woman in Portugal, who is married to a Brazilian, has recounted how she fears delays in seeking a family permit may force her to temporarily leave her two-month-old baby with her father while she returns home to Bristol to obtain your permission. four years in school and start a new life.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said: “EUSS family leave applications are considered in a strict order of application date, and we continue to review staffing levels and deploy resources in the areas of greatest need. Each case is considered as quickly as possible and on its individual merits, but processing times may vary depending on the volume and complexity of the requests.

The 15-day service standard does not apply to all entry clearance requests. “

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