Britons residing in Portugal are complaining of being disadvantaged of get admission to to elementary rights comparable to healthcare, employment and social safety as a result of they’ve now not been issued with post-Brexit residency playing cards.
Some had been blocked at airports as they try to commute to different EU nations, being advised 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 crew, advised Euronews. “It has paralysed and damaged UK nationals’ lives emotionally, physically and financially.”
James cites circumstances of British employees not able to signal paintings contracts, with some having activity gives 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“Two people were recently detained in Germany because of out-of-date residency documentation,” she added.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 selection go back tickets again to Portugal by means of any other path out of doors the EU, at a price of a few €5,000.
The couple have hired a German immigration attorney and are hoping for a courtroom listening to. “They have done everything legally,” James says.
Like British nationals residing in different places within the European Union, the tens of hundreds residing in Portugal have been assured residency and related rights beneath the Brexit divorce treaty.
As lengthy as that they had moved to the rustic earlier than the brand new laws took impact in 2021, the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA)protects rights comparable to residency, housing, employment, well being care and social safety, for them and their members of the family.
The new laws overlaying commute state that UK nationals with place of abode 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 respectable documentation “in the form of a biometric residence card”.
Tig James says the Portuguese government had been 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 electronic mail noticed by way of 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 report 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 advised Portuguese TV channel SIC that she encountered difficulties on a shuttle to Amsterdam together with her husband this summer season and not using a 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 stated.
“SEF are consistent in saying the paperwork they have given is sufficient which it most certainly isn’t,” James advised 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 reusing treatment, appointments canceled.”
She provides that “repeatedly” Britons have had issues looking to change UK riding licenses for Portuguese lets in to conform to the regulation. Tax places of work and banks are refusing to modify addresses, whilst automotive house owners are not able to sign in, restore or import cars. Parents are splashing out tens of hundreds of euros as a result of programs 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 had been not able to convey “third country” spouses into Portugal.
James cites the case of 1 guy whose personal residency report has expired and is looking ahead 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 program has been arrange by way of SEF to procedure biometric knowledge for Britons residing 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 became 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.