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The joys of the Home Office

17 February 2017

So the UK voted to leave the EU last year (yes that is how long it has been since my last post). There is no guarantee at all that I will be allowed to stay in the UK after the Brexit negotiations have been completed. Many people simply do not understand how frightening this insecurity is. I agree with them that it will probably not be as bad as I fear but let's look at the current options:

1) Nothing will change. Not likely because the reason UK is leaving is to put a stop to the free movement of people.

2) All EU nationals in the UK will be given the right to remain. Not likely for the above reason.

3) Rules that currently apply for people from outside the EU will apply to all EU nationals who want to stay in the UK. This seems likely but it would mean I will have to leave as the requirement for non-EU nationals is that they make £35,000 per year. Not as joint income with their partner, but in their own job. As a nurse, I am never going to make that amount of money and the government has decided that nursing is not on the exempt list of jobs for which there is a staff shortage.

4) A whole new system. May be but until the day that system is announced, EU nationals in the UK will have no idea if they are allowed to stay and if so, what the criteria will be.

Try to think about that for a minute. Try to think about how you would feel if you are not sure you will be allowed to live int he country you call home. The country where you met your partner, where your kids were born, where you trained, where you work... You may be allowed to stay. You may not. You just don't know. So you cannot plan your future. Think about that and then think about that before saying to someone:"Oh I'm sure you'll be allowed to stay, you have been here for years, you have a job, you have kids. I'm sure you'll be fine." You don't know that. Because being here for years and having a job is not enough.

So, what to do to try and get some kind of security for my future? I decided to apply to become a British Citizen. Being married to a Brit, means I would qualify. But in order to apply for a British passport, I need to have a Permanent Residency Permit. Stay with me, this is where the Kafka-esque nightmare starts. At the moment, EU nationals do not NEED a permanent residency (PR) permit in order to be allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely. These permits are for non-EU nationals only. At the moment. But, to get my British passport, I need one so I am applying for one.

The Home Office keeps telling people that nothing has changed for EU nationals as the UK has not left the EU yet and that we do not need a PR or any other additional things in order to have the right to stay in the UK. FOR NOW! The blithering idiots do not seem to understand that some people need to plan further ahead that the government's disastrous Brexit negotiations.

The application for a PR permits is a nightmare. In order to qualify for PR, you need to prove that for a period of 5 consecutive years, you met all the criteria (work, not on benefits, self-supporting etc). The consecutive thing is the bit that is biting me in the arse right now. I moved here in 2004. I have worked non-stop until November 2010. So I qualify for the PR based on this period. However, the proof they want is bank statements, rental contracts, P60s, pay slips, tax returns etc. Now I don't know about you but I don't have any bank statements from 12 years ago. Nor do I have the rental contract for the place I rented in 2006. Or the P60 for the 10 days I worked for a temp agency back in 2005. Or even the exact dates that I worked for that temp agency. So the chances are that I will not be able to provide enough proof to back up my claim based on 2004-2010.

So what about the next period then? Well, in 2010, I gave up my job to look after my first wife, Jane, who was dying from a brain tumour. She was lucky enough to be reasonably well off so we lived off her savings, until she died in May 2011. After that, I lived off my savings until December 2011 when I started work again. So for more than a year, I did not work. But I will struggle to prove I was self sufficient because I don't have bank statements from that period anymore. Nor do I own Jane's bank statements that showed how much money we had. I worked for a few months and then started university in October 2012, paid for by the NHS and I lived off my inheritance. Unfortunately, the PR application requires people to prove they have private health insurance if they study full time in the UK. I didn't have this because I didn't need it, being an EU national. That means that the period 2010-2015 (when I finished uni) does not meet the criteria for PR.

So now what? I guess I'll have to focus on trying to get evidence that I really was here in 2004-2010 and that I was a productive member of society. Even though many people will argue that now, as a nurse, I am much more productive.

The whole thing is an absolute shambles. Many people have said: why worry so much about what may never happen? Let me give you a comparison.

You are told that they may, or may not, burn your house down in 3 years time. They guarantee that some houses around you will burn down but they have not yet decided if yours will be burnt down. In the mean time, they won't tell you where you can buy fire alarms and smoke detectors which might help you to at least get some kind of warning. And you cannot get insurance either because the application form asks: when will your house burn down.  And now imagine you are due to re-mortgage in 2 years time. What do you do? Sell up? Remortgage? Take the chance it may not even happen? Considering that your decision has far reaching implications (moving house, losing money, maybe finding a different job if you cannot find an affordable house near by, new schools for your children and so on...), would you be worried or would you agree with your friends who live in an unaffected part of town who keep telling you to "live for the now" because it may never happen?

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