Monday, February 27, 2017

You'll be ok, you're married to a UK citizen... (except you won't!)

This morning's Guardian story about a woman being deported to Singapore has left me incensed! I am looking at it, of course, in the context of Brexit. After Brexit, EU citizens revert to being normal immigrants, as far as I can tell, so as you can see from this it makes not one jot of difference if you are married to a UK citizen, nor if you are the mother or grandmother of UK citizens. Only two things matter - that your partner earns over £18600 and that after being granted permanent leave to remain in the UK (after five years meeting criteria one) you don't leave the UK for more than a six month stretch. Of course a majority of these EU citizens would never have chosen to settle here in the first place, had they known their rights could simply be removed decades down the line.

Anyone who moved here before the Tories came to power in 2010 will have had no notion that their status could change, so they moved here with the certainty that if their elderly parent should become ill, they could ask them to move in, or they could take leave of absence to go back to their place of origin to care for them. The main reason this woman seems to have lost her right to remain was because her elderly parents didn't die conveniently within the six month slot allotted to them by the Home Office. Had I been living in Denmark when my dad was diagnosed terminally ill, I would of course have liked to have come home to see him and care for him if necessary. But given he dared to take twenty months to die after being given a three month prognosis, had Denmark been using these rules, I could have been deported as an illegal immigrant.

Thomas moved here in 2002. It never occurred to him that if one day his parents needed him to fly over and care for them, he'd be obliged to leave them to die alone simply to adhere to insensitive immigration rules. That woman had been here 30 years - let that sink in, 30 years and the reason her partner is no longer earning the allotted amount is age and ill health. No one will want to come to the UK if they know that thirty years down the line, their partner losing their job or their parents falling ill can have you thrown out without a second glance. Yes, it will solve the immigrant problem that the Tories perceive exists, but this idea that rules can be change retrospectively and people can never feel safe is beyond inhumane.

So many EU citizens I know are highly qualified academics. They too are falling foul of the five year rule because academics often take a year out at a foreign uni to teach. These academics are now deciding that the UK is not a safe place to have a career because these arbitrary rules leave them and their families too vulnerable. They are choosing to apply to any of the other 27 countries where they can work without worrying about their immigration status. Do we really want our kids to go to mediocre universities because the brightest lights have fled these Draconian immigration loopholes? I certainly don't. I had some wonderful professors at uni who were EU nationals, as does Marcel. My own father-in-law was a German citizen when he started teaching at Aarhus uni (in Denmark), where he became the Dean.

If Brexit goes ahead and Scotland doesn't manage to find an escape route, should my family leave now in case one day I am not earning the required income because, for example, I've retired, and Thomas suddenly finds himself obliged to help a sick relative for one month too many?

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