Dutch Woman’s PR Application Plight Highlights Inadequacies Of The Home Office
A Dutch woman, who has resided in the UK for the past 24 years and has two children with her British husband has been left flabbergasted at the inconsistency of the UK Home Office when dealing with her EEA permanent residence application.
Monique Hawkins decided to apply for citizenship following the June referendum whereby the UK voted by a small majority to leave the EU.
The difficulties faced by EU citizens applying for citizenship after having lived in the UK for many years, was plainly illustrated by a letter sent from the Home Office to Mrs Hawkins. This informed her that not only had her application been rejected, but that she should make plans to leave the country.
European citizens with British spouses do not automatically qualify for UK citizenship under current rules, leading Mrs Hawkins to become concerned that if she did not apply she would be forced, “to join a US-style two-hour Immigration queue” while the rest of her family, “sail through the UK passport lane”.
Hawkins said the Home Office had overlooked vital information in her submission – she was unable to supply an original of her Dutch passport because her father had recently died and she needed her passport to continue to travel to the Netherlands to support her mother.
Not supplying her original passport was the grounds given for refusing to grant her a permanent residence Card. However, Mrs Hawkins included a solicitor-approved photocopy of her passport – which is permissible under the rules – plus a covering letter to explain why she could not be without her passport for the four to six months it takes to complete the process.
She stated to The Guardian that the application form included a box for reasons for not including a valid passport as long as it was due to circumstances beyond your control. “Clearly my father dying did not qualify in the Home Office’s eyes as beyond my control,” said Hawkins.
Mrs Hawkins case is now being appealed. She told The Guardian that when she phoned the Home Office to discuss the decision in October, four months after her application was made, she was told her case could not be discussed on the phone or by email. Hawkins said her treatment by the Home Office was as absurd as a “Monty Python” sketch.
In a written complaint, Hawkins said the worst aspect about the process was the inability to contact anyone. She wrote, “I do not believe there is any other business, organisation or even legal process in the world that would treat its customers/clients/applicants in this manner.”
Home Office overwhelmed with permanent residence Card applications
The latest quarterly Immigration statistics released by the Home Office shows the number of EU citizens applying for PR increased by 36 per cent since Britain voted to leave, rising from 10,269 in the three months prior to the EU referendum to 16,009 in the three months that followed.
This has reportedly led to a backlog of almost 100,000 applications, a figure that has tripled since 2015, suggesting the Home Office is struggling to cope with the surge in applications.
EU nationals are also finding it difficult to collate what is being seen by some of the UK’s best Immigration lawyers and ‘The 3 Million’, a group lobbying for the rights of non-British citizens living in the UK, as “totally unrealistic evidence required by the Home Office to prove their right to reside”.
‘The 3 Million’ calculated that it would take the Home Office 47 years to process the three million applications from EU citizens for PR at the current rate, which it warned could leave many unable to have their rights to remain supported.
Meanwhile, 30 per cent of EU citizens are unable to prove their right to residence despite living here legally, leaving one million potentially at risk of deportation from the day the UK leaves the EU.
OTS Solicitors is regarded as one of the best Immigration law firms in the UK. If you need advice on any Immigration law matters, please phone our office on 0203 959 9123 to talk to one of our dedicated Immigration lawyers.