British citizens are struggling to move back to the UK with their EU spouses, despite previous government promises that their rights would be preserved after Brexit.
Ben Bramich, 46, is one of the many Brits affected by Brexit bureaucracy after he received a rejection from the Home Office upon applying for a permit to come back to Britain with his French wife, Valerie, and their children.
The couple had sold their home in Brussels and bought one in the UK, obtained jobs and school in Britain, only to find out they are not allowed to come back. They are now moving between Airbnbs with only a few belongings, The Guardian has reported.
Bramich was thus also forced into choosing between staying with his mother in the UK or returning to his family in Brussels, something which prompted his mother to write to Boris Johnson.
Despite having sent two decades’ worth of proofs of residence, Bramich told the paper that he received an outright rejection instead of a phone call demanding additional paperwork.
‘International moves need certainty’
“There should be a service-level agreement on turnaround times. When you are doing an international move, you need certainty,” he said.
But the official email said 15-day and 60-day turnaround promises given to other visa applications do not apply to the EU Settlement Scheme family permits.
It comes as the Home Office no longer recognises the EU family permit used by EU citizens to reunite with their British partners in the UK – and applications for the UK version of the permit are taking up to six months.
A British woman told The Guardian she had to separate her son, who is six years old, from his French father because her new UK job started this month – and her husband is awaiting a Home Office decision which should have taken 15 days, but two months later they are still waiting. The man had quit his job in France in order to move to London and is now unemployed.
‘I miss dad’
“To be honest, it’s very hard on my son. We tried to make light of it, just saying we are going on vacation, but he misses his father. Now he’s saying: ‘I miss Papa – when can we see Papa, when can we see the dog?’” she told the newspaper.
A Home Office spokesperson told the newspaper: “Applications for EUSS family permits are considered in strict date-of-application order, and we continue to review staffing levels and deploy resource to areas of greatest need.
“Each case is considered as quickly as possible and on its individual merits, but processing times can vary depending on the volume and complexity of applications.
“The 15-day service standard does not apply to all entry clearance applications.”