Maria – not her real name – was arrested at Luton Airport after spending Christmas holidays in her native Spain.
A Spanish woman has been deported from the UK after returning from a short Christmas break in Malaga, despite being able to produce the necessary Brexit documents to prove she has the right to live and work in the country.
The 34-year-old was kept at Luton Airport overnight and then returned to Spain on Boxing Day.
Border officials reportedly told her she was “wasting her time” if she believed Home Office documents certifying her right to remain in the UK would allow her entry.
“I flew home because my sister had a baby girl and actually four days later they put me in a holding cell at Luton airport and told me to take my stuff and my phone and wait there,” said Maria – not her real name. – Quoted in The Guardian newspaper.
“I was left there overnight and then put on a plane.”
Maria's husband flew to Spain to help his wife, and British border officials banned him from re-entering the UK for at least a month.
“I have to go back to work, but now my life is over. All my things are in England: my dog, my car. I trained as a veterinary nurse, that's my dream. If I try to go back, it will get worse,” she said.
The incident highlights some of the problems facing EU citizens whose applications to remain in the UK have yet to be finalized following a Brexit deal.
The Spaniard submitted a late application for an EU settlement plan in 2023.
But his application was rejected in June, citing insufficient evidence.
He applied for an administrative review of the decision and obtained a Certificate of Application (CoA) from the Home Office.
The certificate states: “You can work in the UK pending a decision on your application under the EU settlement scheme”.
Maria lived in the UK between 2014 and 2018 and recently returned to the UK after a stint in South Africa. Covid restrictions prevented her and her husband from returning at an earlier date.
Under current rules, Maria must prove that her stay in Britain is not long enough to risk losing her rights under the extradition treaty.
The Border Force denied her entry due to her application for EUSS [EU Settlement Scheme] “Rejected,” the Guardian reported.
It added: “You will no longer have the right to enter the UK under the Citizens' Rights (Application Deadlines and Temporary Protection) Regulations 2020.”
Maria denies this and says that while her case is still pending, her current application certificate confirms her permission to work in the UK.
He is currently taking legal advice and says he is ready to refer his case to the Home Office.
The Home Office has said in the past that those seeking to enter the country with a CoA are not entitled to work, but to prove they have a right to be in the country.
It says those who refuse to enter the border “may be detained by the UK pending removal from the point of arrival”.
The Home Office added that the situation was “not the same as a deportation order which, although valid, would prevent re-entry into the UK”.
A CoA does not give an EU citizen the right to enter and exit the country, it said.
From December 2020, authorities will be empowered to ask CoA holders for further evidence of their stay in the UK when they arrive at the border.
The Home Office was quoted in the Guardian as saying that the Border Force's top priority is “keeping our borders secure and we will never compromise on this”.
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