A Dutch woman has been told that she will have to leave the UK, despite living there for the past 24 years with her British husband and two children.
The woman, called Monique Hawkins, was told by the Home Office that she should prepare and make arrangements to leave, following her application for British citizenship. This occurred after the EU referendum in a post-Brexit Britain.
Prior to the referendum result being announced, Hawkins never felt any strong need to apply for citizenship, but swiftly changed her mind following the referendum, as she was fearful that her standard EU rights may diminish after Britain leaves the EU.
Under current rules, a European citizen who is married to a British person does not automatically receive UK citizenship. Due to the recent Brexit revelation, Hawkins feared that not applying for the citizenship would hinder her when travelling outside of Britain, particularly in airport queues.
Hawkins had recently lost her father, and therefore could not supply the Home Office with her original Dutch passport, as she needed it to travel back to the Netherlands to support her mother, and could not be away from her family during this time for the four to six months that it takes to process the application.
Because of this detail, she received a letter which stated, “As you appear to have no alternative basis of stay in the United Kingdom you should now make arrangements to leave”, despite explaining that she would provide her original passport once the case worker assigned to her application requested to see it.
Hawkins claimed that her treatment by the Home Office was “as absurd as a Monty Python sketch”, as when she made an attempt by telephone to discuss the decision that was made by the Home Office, she was told that they would not discuss it by phone or email.
She wrote in a complaint letter: “I do not believe there is any other business, organisation or even legal process in the world that would treat its customers/clients/applicants in this manner.” She then received a reply to her letter stating that her complaint “did not qualify as a complaint under Home Office guidelines”.
She then wrote another letter to appeal the initial decision, but said in her complaint: “I am now left totally in limbo. I do not know how long to wait for a reply. I do not know whether my application will be reopened or not”.
Included in her letter, she highlighted the given reason for her denied application as not having her original passport, by again highlighting that she included a solicitor-approved photocopy of her passport, including an explanation for doing so, which is permitted under the rules for application.
Hawkins explained that the application form for citizenship included a box for her to explain any reason why she cannot include a valid passport, which would be accepted if it was due to circumstances beyond the applicant’s control. She said, “clearly my father dying did not qualify in the Home Office’s eyes as beyond my control”.
The software engineer, from Surrey, who has two children aged 15 and 17, said, “It is important to realise that in applying for permanent residency I am not gaining a right, I am only getting a document stating a right I already have”.
She has since resubmitted an application for permanent residency, and has claimed that she believes that her case is just one of many others which demonstrate the “discrimination against EU/UK marriages”.
IMAGE CREDIT: Facebook
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