Britons dwelling in Portugal are complaining of being disadvantaged of get entry to to elementary rights akin to healthcare, employment and social safety as a result of they’ve no longer been issued with post-Brexit residency playing cards.
Some were blocked at airports as they try to shuttle to different EU international locations, being informed on the border that their paperwork don’t seem to be so as.
“We are in desperate straits,” Tig James, co-president of the British in Portugal marketing campaign workforce, informed Euronews. “It has paralysed and damaged UK nationals’ lives emotionally, physically and financially.”
James cites instances of British employees not able to signal paintings contracts, with some having activity provides retracted, as a result of the loss of residency documentation — “most notably, five EasyJet pilots who had moved to Portugal, with their families, solely for that purpose”.
“Two people were recently detained in Germany because of out-of-date residency documentation,” she added. They had to shop for choice go back tickets again to Portugal by way of every other direction outdoor the EU, at a price of a few €5,000.
The couple have hired a German immigration legal professional and are hoping for a courtroom listening to. “They have done everything legally,” James says.
Like British nationals dwelling somewhere else within the European Union, the tens of 1000’s dwelling in Portugal had been assured residency and related rights underneath the Brexit divorce treaty.
As lengthy as they’d moved to the rustic earlier than the brand new laws took impact in 2021, the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA) protects rights akin to residency, housing, employment, well being care and social safety, for them and their members of the family.
The new laws masking shuttle state that UK nationals with place of dwelling rights in an EU nation “do not need a visa to enter their country of residence or any other EU country”. But they tension the significance of getting new professional documentation “in the form of a biometric residence card”.
Tig James says the Portuguese government were promising her that the brand new Withdrawal Agreement biometric playing cards (WABCs) can be arriving “soon” since July 2019. But 3 years on, they’ve but to be issued.
In an e-mail observed via Euronews, Portugal’s Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) “clarifies that the current residence documents of British nationals living in Portugal continue to be accepted”.
SEF explains that British citizens can obtain evidence in their utility within the type of a supporting record with a QR code. This, it says, “allows to travel, serves as proof of their residence in Portugal and guarantees access to public health and social services”.
But British resident Nicola Franks informed Portuguese TV channel SIC that she encountered difficulties on a commute to Amsterdam along with her husband this summer season with no new biometric ID card.
“The border control official looked at these papers he had obviously never seen before and decided they were not legitimate, that, in fact, they were only applications for residency. To make a long and frightening story as short as possible, he turned me back to Portugal,” she mentioned.
“SEF are consistent in saying the paperwork they have given is sufficient which it most certainly isn’t,” James informed Euronews, arguing that the “dreadful consequences” are “devastating lives”.
“Without a WABC you can’t register for health care if you move address (people seriously ill, potentially terminally ill, cannot get treatment), doctors refusing treatment, appointments cancelled.”
She provides that “repeatedly” Britons have had issues looking to trade UK using licences for Portuguese lets in to conform to the legislation. Tax workplaces and banks are refusing to switch addresses, whilst automotive house owners are not able to sign in, restore or import automobiles. Parents are splashing out tens of 1000’s of euros as a result of packages for EU college charges are being rejected.
“Portuguese institutions or businesses are simply refusing to deal with UK nationals or provide a service,” James says.
“The Portuguese social security office has ceased family allowance payments until a WABC can be produced and the birth of a child cannot be registered. Only on one family employing a lawyer were they able to finally register their child and, by the time all the negotiations were completed, the child was ten months old.”
British nationals were not able to deliver “third country” spouses into Portugal.
James cites the case of 1 guy whose personal residency record has expired and is looking forward to his spouse to be allowed in.
“He cannot get a renewal nor can he leave the country as he is not allowed to start the renewal process until his wife has her WABC. His mother is now seriously ill and he cannot leave to see her. In the meantime, as his residency has expired, his dermatologist has refused to see him for his skin condition. Families are being torn apart,” she says.
“The reasons for the three-year delay by the immigration department? Staff shortages, holiday periods, the pandemic, and now Ukrainian refugees,” James explains.
A pilot programme has been arrange via SEF to procedure biometric information for Britons dwelling within the Azores and Madeira. But this considerations just a fraction of the full choice of UK nationals in Portugal.
James says she has been lobbying British and Portuguese politicians for years, however “all that has happened is the situation has got worse”.
“SEF are wilfully, deliberately and systemically not adhering to the Withdrawal Agreement resulting in the physical, emotional and financial suffering of thousands of UK nationals in Portugal.”
The campaigner has grew to become down an appointment in September to give proof of the Britons’ difficulties earlier than the European Commission’s Economic and Social Committee.
“My residency has expired and we already have incidents of UK nationals having terrible problems in Brussels trying to leave as their documentation, as is mine, is out of date, expired, being detained. I cannot afford to get arrested,” she says.