With the current political situation after the Brexit referendum and after talking to some of my Scottish, as well as Polish friends, I decided to share my ‘Brexit’ story.
I have been living in Orkney since 2008, I have had various jobs in the hospitality and care sector, then I met a Scottish man, married him and now we have two children together. I have taken a break from my employment to raise my children and I also began studying for a degree in psychology.
Then, the Brexit referendum came, with the uncertainty of what will happen next. I thought, because I have lived here for so long, I will apply for permanent residence and ‘all will be fine’.
How wrong I was!
My application for permanent residence (PR) was refused because I did not have a relevant period of employment (under current rules it has to be continuous 5 years), and when I stopped working, I should have had comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI), which is a private medical insurance, in case I fall ill.
According to the Home Office, they do not accept NHS as a form of insurance – you might think they would as it is free and I never had to pay for any treatment. And because I found out 1.5 years into my studies about CSI, those years are now ‘lost’ if I ever want to apply for permanent residence in the future.
I do have CSI now, it is relatively cheap (£12 a month) as I am young and healthy, but I have spoken to people who pay £50 a month, because they have pre-existing medical conditions.
The issue of CSI is not very well known to other people. If I ask a British person they have no clue what I am talking about. The Home Office does not seem to ‘advertise’ it and even the majority of universities in the UK do not know about it. Many students fail to get PR because of this loophole in the system. According to the Home Office, ever since the Brexit referendum, 128 000 of EU nationals have failed to receive permanent residence, and I am one of them.
My PR application was also refused, because according to the Home Office, I am applying under my own treaty, and the fact that my husband and children are British does not matter. My husband, and again that’s according to the Home Office, cannot become my ‘sponsor’ because he is British, and here is a quote from the letter:
‘As your sponsor is considered to be a British citizen, he is unable to sponsor your application for EEA documentation as he is not considered to be an EEA national in accordance with the Regulations.’
I find that strange as the UK is still in EU and in single market, so technically my husband is an EEA citizen – but not according to the Home Office. If he was Polish or any other EU national (but not British!) then he could become my ‘sponsor’. The whole PR application process has left me speechless and the Home Office rules seem to contradict each other.
Brexit has created a great deal of anxiety to me and my family, especially when the current Government has failed to secure EU nationals’ right to stay for the past 9 months. Many EU workers have left the UK saying they did not feel welcome anymore.
Article 50 has been triggered and my question is:
How long will EU nationals’ lives be left in limbo?
Our lives go on as well, we have mortgages and bills to pay and we would like to feel secure in the place we call our home now. We have been waiting for 9 months now.
Is it all right to play on our emotions?
We are not made of steel. Don’t we deserve some basic human rights?