British immigrants who have had their Spanish residency applications refused have been given 15 days to leave the country to avoid becoming ‘illegal’.
The post-Brexit problem means overstaying can be a “serious offence”, with fines ranging between €501 and €10,000, documents seen by The Local reveal.
Other risks include deportation and a ban from countries in the Schengen area for a period of six months to five years.
The problem is reportedly affecting those who did not apply for residency in Spain before Brexit came into force.
Anne Hernández, head of the Brexpats in Spain group, told the paper she knows of several cases in the Málaga area.
“It’s scary stuff when you consider that British applicants might have sold up in the UK to buy their dream home here, shipped all their furniture and belongings over and their pets – what do they do?” she asked.
Brits who have been refused can appeal against the decision, but failure to find and show a document proof from last year puts them at risk of another rejection. They are however allowed to stay in Spain during the appeal process.
EU citizens in UK
Meanwhile, almost half a million EU citizens are waiting for a decision from the Home Office over whether they are allowed to maintain their rights to live, work and rent in the UK post-Brexit.
According to the BBC, this means some EU nationals are unable to work or rent until a government decision is made over their immigration status – known as pre-settled or settled status.
Those with pre-settled status do not have a guarantee that they will be able to upgrade to settled status when the condition to have lived for five years in the UK is met.
But no matter the status, the digital-only proof given by the government to EU nationals that they have the right to remain in Britain post Brexit has come under fire by citizens rights campaigners.
Home Office proof for EU citizens ‘will discriminate’
Nicolas Hatton, the CEO of EU citizens’ rights organisation the3million, said the online system sometimes does not recognise identity documents needed to prove one’s rights to live, rent and access healthcare in the UK.
He told The London Economic: “We are seeing that people are posting screenshots online when the system doesn’t work, there are a lot of people struggling with their identity documents.
“Ministers said that old documents would always be valid to provide evidence of status but there is a design flaw to this scheme.
“The Home Office has recognised that not everyone can apply electronically but would not recognise that not everyone will be able to prove their status electronically.”
He said the system is “not inclusive and will discriminate” – and highlighted the difficulties which illiterate people or working people may face. “There will be discrimination in the workplace because some employers won’t be able to check the status,” he said.