No queue for Britons seeking to return to UK with EU spouses

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Officials at Whitehall have indicated that there will be no queue jumping for Britons who wish to return to the UK with EU spouses after Brexit, he revealed.

Despite government promises that their rights would remain the same after the UK left the bloc, officials wrote to pro-Brexit Conservative MP Esther McVey to tell her they could not prioritize requests documents for UK nationals affected by Brexit.

“While we are able to expedite requests, this is reserved for the most critical and compassionate cases,” the official said in an email to McVey after intervening on behalf of one of her constituents. who has been waiting since March for a family permit to allow his French wife and their children to return to the UK as a family unit.

On September 1, he received a refusal from the Interior Ministry on the grounds that his documents were not complete.

The rejection came as a shock to Ben Bramich, 46, and his wife, Valerie, who had made detailed plans to return home to the UK with new jobs, a home and a school for their two children, aged four and six years, including the sale of the family home.

Confident of his right to return home, Ben, a middle executive in the auto industry, returned to Wilmslow in August while his wife went on vacation to France with the children to see his parents before the big move across the Channel. But after the letter from the Ministry of the Interior, he returned to Brussels.

“We live in an Airbnb, have to move to another Airbnb again for another three days because someone else booked this one, then move again. We have minimal personal effects and no toys for children. A friend came by the house a few days ago and brought us some things for the children, ”he said.

His nightmare is one of the countless told by Britons trying to return home to be near elderly parents, take a new job or send the children to school.

Under post-Brexit rules, Brits married to EU nationals must obtain a family permit before their spouses can enter the UK as a family unit, but dozens of families who have contacted the Guardian spoke of nightmarish experiences.

Ben said the most frustrating thing about the experience was being left in the dark, with outright rejections instead of phone calls asking for additional documents. He had provided birth certificates, marriage certificates and government issued certificates showing who had lived in his home in Brussels since 2014 and a full history of permanent residence over the past 20 years.

“There should be a service level agreement on turnaround times. When moving internationally, you need certainty. All they asked for I could have provided in 24 hours – that’s what is so upsetting, ”he said.

The official email stated that there was “no service standard for this type of application” and that the 15 and 60-day deadline commitments given to other visa applications do not apply. These, the official said, applied to “other routes of entry authorization but are not applicable to family permits under the EU settlement regime,” they added.

Faced with the choice of staying close to his mother in Wilmslow or his wife, he chose to return to Brussels to join his family. Her mother is so stunned that she wrote Boris Johnson about it.

Jane Golding, co-founder of British in Europe, a coalition of groups for British nationals in the EU, has called on the government to extend the March 29 deadline for spouses of British nationals who wish to return to the UK. She said the problem was that “we were promised a three-year grace period, but what we got instead was a 15-month window.”

“Now, time is running out. With just over six months left of that window, Covid’s arrears continue to decline. The Home Office needs to devote more resources to this and better communicate what people need to do.

“Of course the right thing to do would be to extend – and give people three years from when the rules actually changed, January 1, 2021, and the government to honor its promises to its citizens of the EEA and Switzerland. ”

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