Thousands of British citizens living in Europe have accused the UK government of tampering with their rights after Brexit.
In a letter to four secretaries of state including home secretary Priti Patel and foreign secretary Liz Truss, campaign group British in Europe urged the Tories to deliver on their promises that Brits in the EU would not have their rights taken away after Brexit.
One of the 1.2 million British citizens in Europe told The Guardian that she and her French husband have been waiting for Home Office approval to move back to the UK from France for almost a year.
The couple sold their house and have been camping out with their children after selling their house, having read it would take 15 days to obtain the family permit – which led to the husband, aged 80, to be “very depressed” about the process and assume the Home Office have been “waiting for him to die”.
The letter sent by British in Europe refers to Brits attempting to return home as one of the issues caused to the community post-Brexit – and urged the government to extend a 29 March deadline for non-UK spouses settled status applications.
One of the group’s demands is a “clear statement” that family members entitled to come to the UK on a visitor permit can do so in order to physically move to the UK, where they can then apply for settled status.
According to The Guardian, thousands of British citizens may be waiting for family permits to be able to move to the UK, but the Home Office rejected freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions on data from the former Brexit select committee chair, Hilary Benn.
Lack of funding for support for Brits in EU after Brexit
Meanwhile, British in Europe has also announced it will close down after six years of campaigning because of insufficient funds and highlighted Brits in the EU need more support than ever.
The group has urged the Tories to remove their decision to cancel funding for embassies and consular roles which have supported Brits in the EU and EEA, highlighting the need for this support until at least 2023.
A Home Office spokesperson refused to offer a reason for the 10-month delay faced by the British-French couple, and instead pointed out “complexity”, which is a “standard” response to questions according to applicants seeking family permits.
“Applications for EU settlement scheme (EUSS) family permits are decided as soon as possible, but waiting times can vary depending on the volume of applications received and the complexity of the case being considered. As a result, customers may experience a longer wait than usual for their decision on their EUSS family permit applications,” the spokesperson added.
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