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BREXIT

BREXIT: Brits rejected for residency in Spain given 15 days to leave country

Some UK nationals who have had their Spanish residency applications rejected are being sent notices telling them they must leave the country within 15 days or risk being classified as illegal.

BREXIT: Brits rejected for residency in Spain given 15 days to leave country
Photo: Julian Hacker/Pixabay

Anne Hérnandez, the head of citizen help group Brexpats in Spain, told The Local Spain on Thursday of the most recent residency problem UK nationals in Spain are encountering post-Brexit. 

According to legal documents The Local Spain has had access to, Spain’s Immigration Office (Extranjería) are informing some Britons who applied for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement that they have 15 days to leave the country after their application has been rejected. 

“You will be advised that, unless you have a qualifying document to stay in Spain, you must leave the Spanish territory within 15 days from the notification of this resolution, unless exceptional circumstances occur and you justify that you have sufficient means, in which case you may extend your stay up to a maximum of ninety days,” reads the document.

“Once the indicated period has elapsed without the departure being made, the provisions of the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, will be applied for the cases of being irregularly in the Spanish territory (article 53.1.a of the cited Organic Law 4/2000).” 

According to the state bulletin in question, overstaying can be considered a “serious offence” by Spanish authorities, with fines going from €501 to €10,000, a possible expulsion from Spain as well as a potential ban from the Schengen area for six months to five years.

Hernández, who was recently awarded an MBE for the help she provides to Britons in Spain, said “it’s the first I’ve heard of the 15 days deadline but I’ve been contacted by people asking for help who’ve told me this”.

“We don’t have exact figures of how many people are affected but I know of several cases around Málaga.

“Applications are mostly being rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legally residing in Spain in 2020, such as a padrón (town hall registration), medical insurance or other proof people were actually living here before 2021,” Hernández explained. 

The situation affects Britons who are applying for residency in Spain for the first time under the Withdrawal Agreement. In essence, those who didn’t register before Brexit came into force, (and therefore are not holders of the old green residency document or, since July 2020, a TIE card), even though they were purportedly living in Spain before the end of 2020. 

Their application process is different from those who are green residency document holders and want to exchange the A4 paper or card for a TIE, and different as well from the process for UK nationals who weren’t living in Spain before Brexit and are applying for residency for the first time.

“It’s scary stuff when you consider that British applicants might have sold up in the UK to buy their dream home here, shipped all their furniture and belongings over and their pets – what do they do?” Hernández said, citing also the example of a pregnant British woman in Spain who’s received this notice letter from Spanish immigration authorities.

Appealing rejected residency applications in Spain is possible and there are several organisations – Age in Spain, Babelia and IOM – helping Brits in particular to do so. 

“But if they ask for a document such as medical insurance dating back from 2020 and they can’t provide it, they risk the application being rejected again.” Hernández argued.

READ MORE: Why some residency applications by Britons in Spain are rejected (and how to appeal)

Alicia Gárate, the International Organisation for Migration’s coordinator for the UK Nationals Support Fund Project in Spain, told The Local  that there are “two appeal processes for rejected residency applications which each have to be completed within a month”.

“It’s important for UK nationals to know that if their residency application is rejected and they appeal, then they have the right to remain in Spain during the appeal process.”

Although Spain hasn’t given unregistered Brits who were in the country before Brexit a deadline by which to apply for their Spanish residency for the first time, UK and Spanish authorities have been urging Britons to do so as soon as possible if they intend to stay here. 

Hérnandez will discuss the matter on the Mijas weekly livestream session on Youtube at 7pm local time on Thursday September 9th (you can listen to it at a later date here).

READ ALSO: Can non-resident Brits in Spain get an extension on the 90-day rule and what happens if they overstay?

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IMMIGRATION

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

Moving to another country is never easy, as it requires going through cultural changes and administrative formalities. It can be even more complicated when looking for a job.

EXPLAINED: What are the main obstacles to finding a job when moving to an EU country?

According to new data released by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, the knowledge of the national language and the recognition of professional qualifications are the two most common obstacles experienced by foreign-born people in finding a ‘suitable’ job in countries of the European Union.

Overall, about a quarter of people born outside the EU who had experience in working or looking for work in the bloc reported some difficulties getting a ‘suitable’ job for level of education (without considering the field of expertise or previous experience).

The Eurostat analysis shows that the situation is better for EU citizens moving within the bloc. But there are major differences depending on countries and gender.

Life can be more difficult for women

In 2021, 13.2 percent of men and 20.3 percent of women born in another European Union country reported obstacles in getting a suitable job in the EU place of residence.

These proportions however increase to 20.9 percent for men and 27.3 percent for women born in a non-EU country with a high level of development (based on the United Nations’ Human Development Index) and 31.1 percent for men and 35.7 percent for women from non-EU countries with a low or medium level of development.

Finland (42.9 percent), Sweden (41.7 percent), Luxembourg (34.6 percent) and France (32.1 percent) are the countries with the highest shares of people born outside the EU reporting problems. Norway, which is not part of the bloc, has an even higher percentage, 45.2, and Switzerland 34.3 percent.

In contrast, Cyprus (11.2 percent), Malta (10.9 percent), Slovenia (10.2 percent), Latvia (10 percent) and Lithuania (6.7 percent) have the lowest proportion of people born outside the EU reporting difficulties.

Lack of language skills

The lack of skills in the national language is most commonly cited as a hurdle, and it is even more problematic for women.

This issue was reported by 4.2 percent of men born in another EU country, 5.3 percent of those born in a developed country outside the EU and 9.7 percent of those from a non-EU country with a middle or low level of development. The corresponding shares for women, however, were 5.6, 6.7 and 10.5 percent respectively.

The countries where language skills were more likely to be reported by non-EU citizens as an obstacle in getting a relevant job were Finland (22.8 percent), Luxembourg (14.7 percent) and Sweden (13.1 percent).

As regards other countries covered by The Local, the percentage of non-EU citizens citing the language as a problem was 12.4 percent in Austria, 10.2 percent in Denmark, 7.8 percent in France, 5.1 percent in Italy, 2.7 percent in Spain, 11.1 percent on Norway and 10.1 percent in Switzerland. Data is not available for Germany.

Portugal (77.4 percent), Croatia (68.8 percent), Hungary (58.8 percent) and Spain (58.4 percent) have the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving, while more than 70 percent of non-EU citizens residing in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Norway said they had participated in language courses after arrival.

Lisbon Portugal

Portugal has the highest share of people from outside the EU already speaking the language as a mother tongue before arriving. (Photo by Aayush Gupta on Unsplash)

Recognition of qualifications

Another hurdle on the way to a relevant job in EU countries is the lack of recognition of a formal qualification obtained abroad. This issue was reported by 2 percent of men and 3.8 percent of women born in another EU country. It was also mentioned by 3.3 percent of men and 5.9 percent of women born in a developed country outside the EU, and 4.8 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Eurostat says this reflects an “unofficial distrust” among employers of qualification obtained abroad and the “low official validation of foreign education”.

The lack of availability of a suitable job was another factor mentioned in the survey. In Croatia, Portugal and Hungary, this was the main obstacle to getting an adequate position.

This issue concerned 3.3 percent of men and 4.5 percent of women born in another EU country, 4.2 percent of men and 5 percent of women born in a developed non-EU country It also worried 3.9 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women born in a less developed non-EU country.

Restricted right to work due to citizenship or residence permits, as well as plain discrimination on the grounds of origin were also cited as problems.

Discrimination was mostly reported by people born in a less developed non-EU country (3.1 percent for men and 3.3 percent for women) compared to people born in highly developed non-EU countries (1.9 percent for men and 2.2 percent for women).

Citizenship and residence permits issues are unusual for people from within the EU. For people from outside the EU, this is the only area where women seem to have fewer problems than men: 1.6 percent of women from developed non-EU countries reported this issue, against 2.1 percent of men, with the share increasing to 2.8 and 3.3 percent respectively for women and men from less developed non-EU states.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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