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Britons in Portugal risk arrest if they enter another EU country because they STILL don’t have a residence permit

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Campaigner and British expat Tig James said British nationals who made Portugal their home before Brexit are now being deported and arrested when trying to enter another EU country

Thousands of British expatriates in Portugal have had their lives ‘crippled and damaged’ because the country has not issued them post-Brexit residence cards, it is alleged.

Tig James, who leads the ‘British in Portugal’ campaign group, says many British nationals who made areas like the Algarve their home before the Withdrawal Agreement came into effect are being deported and arrested when attempting to enter another EU country .

They are also experiencing ‘terrible consequences’ in Portugal – including failure to register for health care, difficulties registering the birth of a child and obstacles to family reunification.

Expat representatives say the problems are caused by the failure of the Portuguese Border and Immigration Service to issue biometric WA cards required for every UK national under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

So far, mainland Portugal has only issued a temporary document and QR code that affected Britons say are not recognized locally or at international borders.

Ms James, who claims the issue has had a serious impact on those who arrived before the Brexit deal came into effect in early 2021 and were unable to obtain residence permits from immigration offices due to the pandemic, said: “The process needed for UK nationals to apply to register for It took months for the residence permit to be introduced and before that caused a lot of problems, especially for those who arrived just before the end of 2020 and were not allowed to obtain residence documentation.

Expats in Portugal (photo by James) face 'horrible consequences' and no health care, she said

Expats in Portugal (photo by James) face ‘horrible consequences’ and no health care, she said

This meant they were unable to sign employment contracts, with many being threatened with their withdrawal, most notably five Easyjet pilots who had moved to Portugal with their families solely for that purpose.

“Not only could people not get a job, but they were also not allowed to register for health care, social security, with banks, the tax authorities, any well-known institution in Portugal.

“Many who had stopped at the Portuguese borders were threatened with deportation.

“Finally they were allowed to register for residency and a system was put in place where a QR code was given stating that they were all legally resident in Portugal, but it wasn’t the biometric WA card every UK national needed under the Withdrawal Agreement.” fell.

“I was promised that the cards would arrive soon since July 2019 and that has been the unchanging answer ever since.

“The reasons for the three-year delay by the Immigration Service? Staff shortages, holiday periods, the pandemic and now Ukrainian refugees.

“The horrific consequences of not having a WA biometric card, the seriousness of which cannot be underestimated, has crippled and damaged the lives of British nationals emotionally, physically and financially.

‘Without one, you cannot register for care if you move address (people seriously ill, possibly terminally ill, cannot receive treatment), doctors refuse treatment, appointments cancelled.

‘There have been repeated calls for British nationals to exchange their driving license for Portuguese driving licenses in order to be fully covered by the law.

One British citizen has made her application seven times due to loss of documentation and the driver’s license office is refusing to accept applications without the WA biometric card.

The tax office refuses to change addresses without an address, so even if a UK national gets a driver’s license it will be sent to the wrong address if people have moved.

Banks refuse to change addresses without the IRS telling them so, so credit and debit cards are sent to the wrong address, vehicles can’t be registered and British nationals charge thousands of duty on vehicles that can be imported for free, and garages refuse to repair vehicles.

Britons abroad in Portugal face unprecedented paperwork in the wake of Brexit (Faro photo)

Britons abroad in Portugal face unprecedented paperwork in the wake of Brexit (Faro photo)

“The QR code people have been given is not accepted at many EU borders and the holders of such codes are often threatened with being refused entry into the country, detained or deported.

‘In Germany, two people were recently arrested because of outdated residence documentation.

‘The Portuguese Border and Immigration Service has refused to renew the residence documentation of a British national who says the QR code covers them.

“No other EU country is in this situation and many border troops refuse to accept expired documents, resulting in denial of entry or detention.

“The two people in Germany had to buy other return tickets because they were told they were not allowed to return via Germany, which cost them about £4,200.

“They are now waiting to see if and when they have a lawsuit in Germany because they have had to hire a German immigration lawyer while doing everything legally and as instructed.”

She added: ‘Portuguese institutions or companies simply refuse to deal with British nationals or provide any service.

‘The Portuguese Social Security Office has stopped child support until a biometric WA card can be presented and the birth of a child cannot be registered.

‘Only a biometric WA card is acceptable for companies hiring new employees, as UK nationals cannot find work or change jobs or, if they are employed but unable to register for health care and are subsequently ill , receive a sick note for their period of illness.

Tourist and expat hotspot Tavira in the Algarve, which many Britons call home, is pictured

Tourist and expat hotspot Tavira in the Algarve, which many Britons call home, is pictured

EU employers, outside Portugal, are demanding a biometric WA card to sign contracts and are refusing the QR code along with the pre-Brexit residence papers that British nationals have.

British nationals who wish to bring their third country national spouses to Portugal under the family reunification rules are not allowed to do so until they have the biometric cards. One couple has been waiting three years to be together and the other two and a half without even being able to start the process.’

A pilot project to provide British expatriates with their much-anticipated biometric cards, known as WABCs, began in February this year in the Azores and Madeira, but nothing has yet been done in mainland Portugal and experts estimate that around 60,000 British nationals living in living in Portugal, still waiting for them.

Nicola Franks, a British resident in Portugal, told Portuguese TV channel SIC about her difficulties when she flew to Amsterdam with her husband three years after moving abroad in June: “We knew about the deadline and wanted to get here well in advance. and sure that we had done all our paperwork and not left everything until the last minute.

‘In June I was stopped after flying to Amsterdam and when I tried to enter the Netherlands I was told that my visa had stayed too long.

“The border control officer looked at these papers which he had clearly never seen before and decided they were not legitimate, that they were really just applications for residence.

‘To make a long and frightening story as short as possible, he sent me back to Portugal.

“He told me that everyone in the UK has a residence permit. I told him that Portugal has failed to release them and he laughed a little and said he was talking and that I should listen and that was the end of his listening.’

She added: ‘I don’t go to the local clinic that has great doctors and good people. I showed my QR code and they said ‘You’re not a resident, you have to pay’

Tig James said, “Nicola’s case is not an isolated one.

Nearly 50,000 Britons moved to live in Portugal in 2021 alone (Algarve pictured)

Nearly 50,000 Britons moved to live in Portugal in 2021 alone (Algarve pictured)

‘I know people living in Portugal who are still trying to work within the Schengen area.

‘I know people who have been stopped by border guards in every European country.

“They’ve had their papers taken from them, they’ve been thrown on the floor because it’s just not the biometric cards that the Portuguese Border and Immigration Service doesn’t give us and that are sent under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

She said, “My own residency expired last year. The Portuguese Border and Immigration Service SEF will not renew expired residence documents, so when I travel outside Portugal I will show expired documents from the border controls.

“I can’t risk being held.”

A Briton, who declined to be named, said: ‘There are thousands of Britons with husbands and wives and children who are almost landlocked in Portugal because there is no way forward.’

An SEF spokesperson said the current residence documents of British citizens living in Portugal are still being accepted.

Despite the difficulties British nationals say they experience with the temporary documents and QR codes they have been given, he said: “The QR document can be used when they travel, as proof of their stay in Portugal, and also guarantees access. to public health services and social security benefits.

“This QR code document has been disclosed to the relevant European authorities in a timely manner to ensure that holders have all the rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

A British government spokesman said in a statement: “We continue to urge the Portuguese government to complete the process of issuing biometric residence cards to British nationals legally resident in Portugal without further delay.

“Portugal must immediately and fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement commitments it signed in 2018 so that British nationals have the security they need.”

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