Identifying the Facts and Myths Behind EU Deportations
At the Conservative Party conference in October 2016, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd made some bold statements. One of these was that EU nationals who commit even the most minor of criminal offences will be deported and banned from the UK for up to 10 years.
This statement is a major departure from past policy concerning the deportation of EU nationals. Prior to 23rd June 2016, when the British people voted by a tiny majority to leave the EU, the deportation of EU nationals was virtually unheard of; only those that committed the most serious of offences faced this decision.
For Immigration lawyers and migration pressure groups this raised the serious question of, exactly what was meant by ‘minor offence’?
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Following this announcement, the new year brought a flurry of media reports illustrating how various EU nationals who had resided in the country for decades were now being told to make plans to leave after their applications for a permanent residence Card were refused.
For example, Sam Schwarzkopf, a German neuroscientist living in the UK, told the Guardian shortly after Christmas, “I am a German citizen who moved to the UK in 1999 to study neuroscience at Cardiff University, both my undergraduate degree and my PhD. After I got my PhD in 2007, I decided to remain in the UK to work. I am now married to a British woman and am a faculty member at University College London.
“In June, one week before the referendum, my application was rejected. The reason was that I hadn’t included my passport in the application, only a legally certified colour copy. This rejection letter contained the phrase that I ‘should now make preparations to leave’ the UK.”
Another high profile case was that of Monique Hawkins, a Dutch woman who has lived in the UK for 24 years, and has two children with her British husband, has been told by the Home Office that she should make arrangements to leave the country after she applied for and was denied a permanent residence Card after the EU referendum.
According to another report in the Guardian, Ms 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 was required to hold onto her passport so she could travel regularly to the Netherlands to support her mother. She explained this in a letter accompanying her application.
Could Mr Schwarzkopf, Ms Hawkins and others whose Permanent Resident Card applications have been rejected be deported?
According to the best Immigration solicitors the answer is “probably not”. Because the Home Office is unaware if a rejected applicant is a ‘qualified person’ and therefore exercising their EU Treaty rights, then it seems they are sending a standard letter out to rejected applicants telling them to make plans to leave, without looking at each individual application in detail.
In the majority of cases, a new permanent residence Card application containing the information and/or documents not included in the original submission will sort out the problem.
What constitutes a minor offence that could lead to deportation and a possible 10-year ban on entering the UK?
Amber Rudd has so far failed to define what constitutes a ‘minor crime’. Is it something as trifling as a parking or speeding ticket? Shoplifting, pickpocketing? At this stage we do not know.
What is clear is the government seems unwilling to wait until Article 50 is triggered to start finding ways to limit EU migration. It seems the smallest of reasons is enough to reject a permanent residence Card submissions. This is why it is imperative that applicants use the best Immigration lawyer they can instruct to check over their permanent residence Card application and ensure the necessary documents are collated. EU nationals who have had their application rejected or are facing deportation for minor offences can also write to their local MP.
We will continue to provide updates on this situation over the coming months.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you in applying for a permanent residence Card and/or British Citizenship and answer any question you may have on your right to remain in the UK following Brexit.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.